Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Individual liberty and Planning law

The Times reveals an interesting move by Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary, in the so called small government coalition, to introduce new regulations to stop developers concreting over thousands of gardens. Measures to stop “garden grabbing” by property developers are to be announced today after growing concern about high-density housing. Developers sometimes buy up one family house and gardens and build flats or three homes on the same site. Residents have little success in blocking these developments because of the demand for social and private housing.

Private gardens are often the main victims of denser development in city and suburban areas as authorities come under pressure to build new homes. In future residential gardens will not be classified as “brownfield land” — or land that has already been built on — which has made it difficult for councils to refuse developments.

How very interesting in light of the government’s commitment to small government and not restricting the right of the individual to say have guns or make a shed load of money by building a multi-storey car park at the bottom of their garden. This surely will have the individual liberties nutters jumping up and down demanding to be able to build what they like on their gardens. After all if I buy a Grade 1 listed Tudor mansion and want to install a sunken Jacuzzi bath a lift and a heli-pad on the roof why should nanny state restrictions stop me?

Greg Clark, the Planning Minister (yes they have one, pictured), will also announce the abolition of minimum targets for the amount of housing in a given area, which has contributed to a mushrooming of homes. Under current stipulations at least 30 homes need to be built on every hectare of developed land, making it difficult for large-scale developers to get planning permission for bigger homes and gardens. This I admit seems sensible and will hopefully stop those ghastly housing developments where you can hear people going to the toilet in the next door house it is so close. But somehow I don’t think it will, after all the more houses you can cram on the more money is to be made.

Campaigners say the abolition of the density targets will end cluttering, ill-thought-out high rises and homes that are too small. Some planners have warned, however, that the combined decisions will lead to more development on greenfield land, which has never been built on. The Planning Officers Society has said: “If it’s garden grabbing out, then it may be countryside grabbing in.” In the past five years 180,000 homes have been built on gardens and land already containing a property.

A survey commissioned by the Communities Department earlier this year showed that garden grabbing is an issue for more than 40 per cent of councils but is concentrated in relatively few areas including the South East, London and the West Midlands. Aren’t these the heartlands of the small government lot? Surely it’s not a question of small government till my neighbour wants to build a nuclear power station in his garden and then its hurray for planning restrictions and petty fogging bureaucracy?


  1. Something has to be done about these shoddy building tactics.

    As a localist however, naturally I dislike the interventionism- but I don't see any way around it. High density housing are the skyscrapper-mistakes of this generation of planners.

  2. I see Dean, in this instance you are all for big government and interventionism.

    Planning as we know is some of the most invasive and bureaucratic instances of governmental control there are. But as usual its horses for courses with the individual liberty brigade and that usually transmutes into the maximisation of their own brand of liberty but heaven forefend that they should have to put up with their neighbours leylandii.

  3. They aren't doing anything about shoddy building practice. They appear to just be restricting my right to concrete over my part of the garden of England if I want to. No knee-jerk legislation here then?

  4. Munguin.

    I have mixed views over this issue. On one hand I agree that we should be allowed to build with in reason what we want in our own gardens but on the other I do think we need guidelines.

    For example, if I were so lucky to have the money to buy a large half million pound mansions in Morningside and enjoyed the privacy that goes with it, it would undoubtedly horrified me if the gardens on either side or the back of me started to build homes in their gardens.

    However you do make an excellent point in that the more you restrict building in the city then greenfield sites then become more vulnerable. Edinburgh is a great example of that. About 60% of the city council area is either greenfield or part of the Pentland national park so therefore in essence (despite Edinburgh's large area) the urban part of Edinburgh is very densely populated.

    Edinburgh was never like Glasgow and had lots of heavy industry so brownfield sites in Edinburgh tend to be small and few, with the exception of the Leith and Granton dock areas but not everyone likes living in flats.

    My answer would be build what you like in your garden but as long as it does not infringe on your neighbors.

    Munguin if I lived next door to you and you were like Beyonce then not only would I agree that you should have a jacuzzi in your garden, I would encourage it!

  5. LOL.

    Munguin. I think that the Communities law only applies to England. We have our own communities legislation here.

    I think too that you're being a bit unfair on Dean, who seems to me to be against about 50% of Tory policy most of the time.

    But I completely take your point and it's one that I find myself at odds with me on quite often. There is a libertarian streak that says, it’s my garden, I bought it and paid for it, why should some pettifogging little prat at the council come and tell me what I can and can’t do? How dare he?

    (I’m thinking of some of the first rate ignorant self important prats we have in our own council’s planning department. I mean, would you like some of them telling you what to do?) On the other hand if that tasteless couple at number 14 want to put up one of these conservatories that they saw advertised in the Daily Retard and then fill their garden with painted cherubs and what have you, I’m always wishing that the aforementioned nobs at the council will come round and bulldoze it.

    And then, there’s these people who cover their houses with Christmas decorations that light up the town for miles around and have a stream of gawpers standing outside going ‘eww’ and ‘ahhh’ and leaving their litter on the pavement and allowing their teenage children to scream with delight or whatever, while you’re trying to read a book in your front room. They should surely be taken out and shot by the local council..... On the other hand, how dare they tell me that I have to take my bin out and place it, handles facing outward, at the edge of the pavement, before 6.30 on a Thursday morning come rain or shine (especially if, in their instructions they misspell a word and use a reflexive pronoun where they should have used a personal pronoun in the objective mood)?

    Any council workers recognise their own work ere... No? Oh, never mind, the grammar would take far too long to explain.

    It is a wretched conundrum... eh?

    However, again, I take your point that it’s rich, coming from the Tories within such a short time that some more personal liberty is going to be taken away from those who wish to do what they wish to do with their gardens.

    Overall like you I doubt that it will make any difference. I’m sure our planning laws are entirely separate from the English planning laws, and yet, in these modern estates with houses costing around £500,000 and more, you couldn’t get a cigarette paper between 6-bedroomed houses with tower staircases. The cost of the land and the pressure to get as many houses on the ground as possible to maximize profit means they end up looking like a row of terraced houses on a council estate... but with towers!

  6. Alan... Munguin look like Beyonce?

    Hum yeah.....

    He looks more..... No. I'm not going to spoil your dreams mate. You're far too nice> :-)

  7. Allan I don’t think these laws will apply in Scotland but I do agree with you about Edinburgh where the people’s rights to develop and people’s rights to peace quite etc rub up against each other.

    What I mean by this post is that the libertarian small government agenda that so many especially on the right bang on about all the time is not a coherent set of tenets that you could live your life by. But are rather a sort of pick and mix of ideals and aspirations that are very selfishly suited to you rather than the society in which you live. You know the: I like shooting things therefore there should be less gun control lot and so on. It is in the realm of planning that these things most come to a head because whereas I reserve the right to do what I like with my property I deny the right to my neighbour to do what he likes with his.

    Sorry to disappoint on the Beyonce front. I don’t have the community chest that she does and anyway I’m not sure looking at it would come as a perk of being her next door neighbour.

  8. Tris: do you mean by that one Mike Galloway OBE Dundee's head of planning? He got his OBE from Gordon Brown for services to town planning, can you believe? Clearly the Queen has never seen Dundee or she would have cut his head off rather than daub him with a bauble. I got a charming letter from him on official Dundee paper in which he styled himself with the OBE and referred to HIS head of parking or something like he is a little emperor. As a good republican I feel particularly sick at people who get baubles from the British Empire for doing their well paid jobs. Especially so in Galloway’s case because he does it so badly. I don’t think I have ever heard anyone say a good word about him.

  9. Tris.

    Damn lol.


    Yes I see where you are coming from. The Tories do have a tendency to look after their own and some of their polices do reflect this. I like the idea of small government and less government interference but only if it supports the majority rather than the few. Gun control and Fox hunting seem to go hand in and with some in the blue quarter but thankfully was is now banned and the other one will hopefully be in the pipeline but don't hold your breath.

    Community chest lol.

  10. Allan: exactly so it is all the politics of selfishness. They are happy to roll back government where it suits in the name of liberty like no free school meals for needy kids while at the same time rolling out government in teerms of presrving middle England.

  11. Aye... Galloway?

    Complete waste of space. For services to town planning? He must have done it in another town, I think.

    He's very up himself over his OBE! Mind you if they give a seat in the House of Lords to the likes of Des Browne, what on earth do they think about people like Galoway who only get a mere OBE... as they say... that's what they give cleaners.

  12. Tris: thats the one his OBEness of Dundee. I know what a laugh getting an OBE for services to what he is also getting paid for. Sorry I have just checked and he got his gong for services to urban design and regeneration still have you seen the state of some of that urban design and regeneration? Some of the worst abominations you can imagine have been recommended by his OBEness. And he sure isn’t a people person as I have never met anyone at all ever who has a good thing to say about him. If he is married I imagine his wife might (but just might).

  13. This issue is a South East of England Conservative voting middle class priority.
    Dealt with straight away by a renegade Northerner unable to be elected in his own home town...

  14. True enough Mr MixedPickle and of course Mr Pickles objects to pickled items being named after him and takes 4 hours to go 35 miles on a train journey that takes normal people 90 mins.

  15. I've been doing some reading, and it seems that this piece of Tory legislation violates the manifesto committment to devolve planning permission laws to local government... I may be wrong, but it does seem that way...

    On a note of objection however, I would like to say that I am a localist, and let no one criticise those credentials - I am a well known fiscal autonomist for example. It is just that in this case, it may be sensible to prevent mistakes...

  16. Deano actually believes Cameron and co will pay some attention to what goes on outside the south East of England(Toryshire) poor deluded lad still are his eyes going to opened over the next 2 years and then another election.

    I mean he has just gone and planted the cross of st George on top of Downing street to support England.........

    well what can you expect from an English Prime minister

  17. Deano

    Don't touch the things, this is a local shop for local people, there's nothing for you hear.

    Are you... local?

    Tubbs: You lied to me Edward. You lied to me. There is a Swansea... and other places.

    Edward: I used to be in a war. And I put paid to quite a few like you, this is a decent town and a local shop, there's nothing for you here.
    Tubbs: Tell him I can't have babies anyway. Tell him my insides are all wrong.
    Edward: Go on then, take the precious things of the shop, burn down our home,
    Edward: rape our dead mouths! Just as long as I don't have to hear any more of your disgusting babble.

    Edward:(Deano) We don't bother the outside world, we don't want it bothering us.

    Edward: this is a local shop the strangers you would bring would not understand us, our customs, our local ways.

    I am a localist..........Nah! I made that one up for Deano

    with thanks to

    "The League of Gentlemen"

    Edward: You people are all alike, You march in here, young! try and touch the local things. I suppose next you'll be spraying me with one of those cans of paint, smearing poor Tubbs here with excrement.

  18. They seem to be going back on rather a lot of thier manifesto committments Dean. I am starting to worry about the monster that we have created... and for opposition all we have is that worn out bunch of backstabbing morons who are more interested in quotas that doing any work.

    Oh and talking of doing work, does the member for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath ever intend to show his face in parliament. We may not be paying him to be Prime Minister any more, but he should remember that he is in receipt of a salary from us, and that involves him turning up for work sometimes.

  19. Tris,

    Face it, we will have Tories in government for 10 years at least, the LibDems however ...

  20. Deano

    Nah! we remember the eighties and this time will be different the generation of today dont do austerity...

  21. Start as you mean to go on. No school meals for 500,000 needy kids. But an extra 200 Lords to collect their £300 per day. Money well spent?

    The Dunkirk spirit stalks the land and as usual its those at the bottom that will have to feel the pinch.

  22. nothing to do with ScotlandJune 09, 2010 10:41 pm


    I think you're forgetting that all these new laws have no relevance in Scotland.
    We have our own planning laws and school meals laws and home reports laws. And most other laws that you will hear about in the future.

  23. nothing: I am aware of that. But they do have relevance in as much as Scotland is still part of the UK no matter how much we may abhor that and how they treat the English is a fair indication of how bad they will treat us. Also hypocracy is fair game wherever it is.

  24. nothing to do with ScotlandJune 09, 2010 11:02 pm


    Sorry picked up your article wrong. Seemed to be talking about all of the UK.
    With reference to school meals in England. Why is it the governments job to feed children ? Isn't that the parents job ? What next, wash their clothes for them ?

  25. nothing: school meals have been around a while. It seems that parents don't always do a good job. I think the Tories call it the broke society and in the end it leads to them getting car jacked in their Rolls Royces by these non people deaperate for money.

    The point I was making was that spending money on feeding half a million kids who may only get that one square meal a day is a better use of scarce resources than creating 200 new Lords who collect £300 a day. You may disagree.

  26. I think in fairness that it is part of a welfare system in a country that does not insist on a very high minimum wage.

    It was probably seen, and I would see it, as an investment. Children are often sent to school insufficiently nourished. They have difficulty concentrating when they are hungry. And if they are given one balanced meal a day perhaps they will do better at school with the attendant beneifits to society later on, and fend off some of the illnesses that otherwise they would get from being underfed.

    In the long term it saves us money. And it's cheaper than taking undernourished kids into care.

    I shudder at the only alternative I can think of.

  27. Mr Whatever,

    You seem to delight it pretending that this is nothing to do with lefting profligate incompetence!

    Why do these cuts need to be made? Because Labour has left us with ever single person owing £22,500 [conservative estimate] on debt interest alone. If there is going to be austerity the people know who to blame: Liebore.

  28. Dean,

    At the risk of repeating myslef.....

    At least half of it belongs to the Banks... and the real nightmare is the Civil Service Pensions scheme, which has been there, been a problem and not been tackled by any government.

    So whilst I woudn't disagree that Labour has to take its share of the responsibility, it is by no means the only guilty party.

  29. Sorry Tris I cannot agree that its mostly all bankers we need to bash.

    It was a Labour regulatory system that gave them the opportunity and means to behave recklessly,

    It was a Labour chancellor who deliberately refused to take action against hte debt bubble,

    It was a Labour government who pretended that there would be no economic downturn

    I think that markets are a-moral, that is why we regulate them. And that is it is mostly Labours fault that we are in this mess.

  30. Dean I don't think the Tories would have done aanything different. Both parties are hell fired keen on business making profits above all.

  31. I have to agree with Munguin. The Tories wouldn't have reigned in the profits that the banks were making.

    What party do you think most of the chairmen of the banks supported?

    I really can't see them saying to the banks.... NO. You mustn't take these risks and we must put the brake on everyone making a huge amount of money on houses. All this profit is dangerous and obscene. And Bonuses of a few million a year while OAPs are starving.... No NO NO.

    Aye right Dean.

    Labour have to take their share of the blame but we can't say that the banks behaved responsibly.

  32. Tris & Munguin,

    The Tories would never have had the pathetic tripartide regulatory structure in the first place. We'd have kept to a strong BoE and done without the FSA [total joke organisation].

    Plus, we'd have kept spending lower than Labour as our 2005 campaign demonstrated.

    I cannot accept that we'd have copied Liebores mistakes. The evidence doesn't support it.

    However you both ignored my main point - that a heck of a lot of the financial systems failures were down to liebore and not just evil bankers [as Tris would have us believe].

  33. Well Dean... I agree that the FSA was joke. It was overseen by the then Deputy Governor of the Bank of England, who had, if I'm not mistaken lately been the Head of the Home Office, a job that he had made an arse of from start to finish. Clearly he knew pretty little about banking and so either he didn't bother or he did bother but they might as well have been talking Dutch to him.

    So by all means I accept that that was foolishness. I also, as you well know, think that Labour's spending and their horrific growth in the public sector were a disaster. The growth would have been ok had it been nurses and doctors and teachers, but it was managers and pen shovers.

    Brown was not just the worst Prime Minister we have ever had, but must rank high on the list of useless idiot chancellors too.

    Of course having his temper and being unwilling to accept advice from anyone, I'm not sure that this history graduate was the best man for the job in any case.

    OK. Labour were crap. That we can agree on.

    But one of our biggest problems; one of our biggest debts is the public sector pension commitment which has been rising under Tory and Labour Prime Ministers.

    Even Thatcher didn't dare tackle that!

    And I know that the banks didn’t cause every misery in the world, but a large part of the debt is the money that we had to throw into the black hole (admittedly because they were allowed to have merchant and investment banks in the same set up as commercial and personal banks.

    Please don’t think I’m an apologist for Labour. Not likely. But I do believe that the Tories wouldn’t have demanded a stop in the massive profits for their friends. As for saying that their campaign proves anything... We’re about a month in and there have been a few u-turns already.

    And I see that they are going to knock hell out of English students... so I suppose that that means that the Barnet Consequence of that is that we will have to do the same.

  34. Oh and Dean... they are not really evil, but by God they are greedy.