Tips on climate, planning and economy | Brussels Blog

Tips on climate, planning and economy

posted by on 7th Jan 2023

York exiles the poor (from 2002)

posted by on 20th May 2024

Planning, Wealth Transfer And Environment

(A response to the Green Paper “Planning: Delivering a Fundamental Change”)

For the past four decades at least, the planning system in the UK has been responsible for massive transfers of wealth. This is directly attributable to the manipulation of the market in planning permission. In key areas especially, the value of planning permission has increased enormously so that its value far exceeds the cost of buildings (for which planning permission is required) and the land that they occupy. This affects both commercial and residential development. However, here I concentrate on the domestic market.

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My websites from 20 years ago

posted by on 6th Apr 2024

Letters to York Council 2023

posted by on 20th Apr 2023

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National Planning Policy & Green Belts

posted by on 13th Feb 2023

The Government have asked for views on their approach to updating to the National Planning Policy Framework.

This is Part 3 of my submission.

The “value of land” has soared of the past few decades

Office for National Statistics – National balance sheet(1995-2021)

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Consultation on the National Planning Policy Framework

posted by on 13th Feb 2023

The Government have asked for views on their approach to updating to the National Planning Policy Framework.

This is Part 1 of my submission.

The National Planning Policy Framework &

a House of Commons report

NPPF Clause 1

This says the National Planning Policy Framework “provides a framework within which locally-prepared plans can provide for sufficient housing and other development in a sustainable manner”.

NPPF Clause 7

This includes “The purpose of the planning system is to contribute to the achievement of sustainable development”.

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Car free development lessens inequality

posted by on 18th Jan 2023

The Government have asked for views on their approach to updating to the National Planning Policy Framework.

This is Part 2 of my submission.

Car free development

Planners now realise there is a section of society that can’t afford cars. Some London Boroughs have housing developments for “affordable” housing where residents give up the right to keep a car.

Also, new planning ideas aim to improve city life in “15 minute cities” where there are fewer cars. This is being applied in Paris by the Mayor, Anne Hidalgo. The term “15 minute city” was coined by Professor Carlos Moreno in 2016. He argued that the daily urban necessities should be a 15-minute reach on foot or bike, including work, hope, shops, education and healthcare. More like British streets before mass ownership of cars moved these facilities to out of town centres …

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Housing: Winners and losers (July 2018)

posted by on 11th Dec 2022

Affluent areas have seen enormous increases in house prices, adding wealth to the rich. In poorer areas, they pay more rent. The intergenerational story is similar. The older generations gain from house price inflation. The young pay higher rents. The biggest cause of the rise in prices is the housing shortage caused by planning restrictions.

Agricultural land increases in value when planning permission is given. Government figures for 2015 gave the average price of agricultural land as £21,000 per hectare. In Wakefield, building land, at £1.0 million per hectare, was valued nearly 50 times as much. In Enfield this was over 700 times. The extra value is the planning premium – a windfall to landowners.

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How York can help climate, young and poor

posted by on 29th Nov 2022

The previous post showed how York Council plans to damage the climate in defiance of its resolution declaring a climate emergency that was passed in 2019. The outlook for future generations is bleak.

Although the cost of housing doesn’t threaten life on Earth, York’s young and those citizens with lower incomes will pay high rents without possibility of owning their own homes. Many will be exiled.

In short, York Council plans will screw the climate and exile the poor.

In this post, I will present a policy that could address both issues. But first a reminder of the report led by Professor Gouldson from Leeds University that gave the fair remaining carbon budget for emitting greenhouse gases to be 50 tonnes CO2e per person – from the beginning of 2020. That’s a total figure not an annual one. Some parts of York will exhaust this budget next year.

The policy I propose can be simply said: Refuse planning permission for any development that is not car-free: It can be shown that a development that includes car ownership is not compatible with the National Planning Policy Framework because of the greenhouse emissions of car use.

The climate issue is the most important: The World is heading to the sixth mass extinction when life on Earth, as we know it, will end. Saving the climate is impossible with a high level of car ownership – as the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee has noted “In the long term, widespread personal vehicle ownership does not seem compatible with significant decarbonisation.”

Put bluntly this means motorists screw the climate. This is borne out in York using the underlying data from, which shows the enormous impact of extra motorists coming to York.

People who believe that we can “get out of this mess” by transferring to electric cars are fantasising: The carbon emissions from manufacturing any car take a big chunk out of any carbon budget. Manufacturing an electric car emits more greenhouse emissions than a conventional car powered by fossil fuels. For example, the battery electric Polestar 2, leaves the factory having caused emissions of 26 tonnes of CO2e – with the remaining budget is falling rapidly from the 50 tonnes per person it was at the beginning of 2020.

Of course, reducing car use is necessary to stay within climate targets, it is not sufficient. We must decarbonise the electricity grid, reduce energy use in our homes, stop most flying and cut much meat & dairy from our diets (especially beef & lamb).

Politically these changes may be very difficult to achieve but the alternative is the ending of life on Earth as we know it.

However, building new settlements, which are car free (with a limited number of exceptions) may not be so politically difficult – living in car-free neighbourhoods has many advantages to non-motorists. Such neighbourhoods, if they are of sufficient size, can support local facilities such as shops, pubs, cafes, schools, libraries. All these create local jobs and so would the introduction of market gardens to create local food production.

A big plus, would be much lower house prices for the car-less lower income group: Most affluent people who have cars, would not compete for such housing. The house prices would be lower because the planning gain that goes into the pockets of developers would be greatly reduced.

The car-free development would not directly change the values of existing housing. For those living near to car-free housing would be able to take advantage of car-free facilities so, where possible, new car-free developments should be near existing housing.

Importantly, car free developments would not cause a drastic drop in existing house values threatening negative equity or destabilising banks through mortgage defaults. Lots of new chheap housing is something that worries the Bank of England.

Car free development makes localisation easier. Localisation has become a political objective, with initiatives like the 15 Minute City promoted by the Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo. This idea is influencing many architects, town planners and commentators.

The basic premise of a 15 minute city “is that no matter where they live, all residents should be able to go to school, enjoy leisure activities, work and shop within walking or cycling distance of their homes – and enjoy a better quality of life as a result.” Such qualities are much easier to attain in car free neighbourhoods.

Carlos Moreno, the French academic who coined the 15-minute city idea, said, the idea is “not to wage a war against cars”. However, Research by the University of Leeds found that, providing the choice of other means of transport did not reduce car use. Broadly, if people have cars, they will use them. For example, they will patronise remote hypermarkets rather than use local shops. With less customers these shops become economically unviable and close.

Historically, increasing car ownership has caused local facilities to close. Let’s reverse the trend.

Car-free development cuts planning gain making houses cheaper for the non-motorist, probably much cheaper but does not damage existing property values and avoids the difficult decision to ban cars from existing areas.

So let’s have car free development round York to save the planet and make York affordable for those on lower incomes – including pensioners like me.

York plans will ruin the climate & exile the poor

posted by on 29th Nov 2022

After COP27, we now know the climate crisis is worsening. We see the starved in Somalia and drowned in Pakistan, along with the enormous toll on the natural world. Unfortunately, our comforts and livelihoods depend on the greenhouse gas emissions, which cause this catastrophe. We all know it will get worse, probably disastrously, ruining the lives of our brothers and sisters in foreign lands, our grandchildren’s children and their children’s children. Although we know this, we choose our current comforts over theirs.

Video: ‘We are the future’ – Striking students bring climate change campaign to streets

In 2019 York Council passed a resolution declaring a climate emergency after demonstrations by York’s young. It has been backtracking since. However, it did commission a report led by Professor Gouldson from Leeds University, which estimated York’s ‘fair remaining carbon budget’.

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