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  • jr-0a (Thanks to Sandy Millar for sharing their work on Unsplash.)
    Article: Aug 7, 2020
    The government's proposed reforms of the planning system have been announced. They are radical and leave many questions unanswered. Changes out for consultation under the white paper include:

    • Requiring local housing plans to be developed and agreed in 30 months, down from the current seven years.

    • Extending the current exemption of small sites from having to make "section 106" payments - the means by which developers are forced to provide affordable housing.

    • Ensuring that all new homes are carbon-neutral by 2050.
    Land across England would be divided into three categories - for growth, renewal or protection - under what Robert Jenrick, the housing secretary, described as "once in a generation" changes planning applications based on pre-approved "design codes" would get an automatic green light - eliminating a whole stage of local oversight within designated zones.
    New homes, hospitals, schools, shops and offices would be allowed automatically in "growth" areas. In "renewal" zones, largely urban and brownfield sites, proposals would be given "permission in principle" subject to basic checks. Green belt and areas of outstanding natural beauty would be protected.
    These proposals leave a lot unsaid. Major concerns include
    1 Environmental
    The plans include a pledge to make only new homes carbon neutral by 2050, when the UK's entire economy is already supposed to be carbon neutral, according to the government's own Climate Change Act, which is written into law. Tom Fyans, deputy chief executive of Campaign for the Preservation of Rural England , said: "The government's aim to deliver carbon neutral new homes by 2050 is pitiful and represents 34 lost years given that the Code for Sustainable Homes aimed to achieve the same thing by 2016 and was dropped by government. If this government is serious about tackling the climate emergency, it needs to be much, much more ambitious on new build.
    2 Design
    The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) described the proposals as "shameful" and said they would do "almost nothing to guarantee the delivery of affordable, well-designed and sustainable homes". "While they might help to 'get Britain building' - paired with the extension of permitted development rights last week - there's every chance they could also lead to the development of the next generation of slum housing," said RIBA president Alan Jones.
    The use of pre- approved design codes leaves a lot to be determined as to what standards these codes embrace
    3 Affordable housing

    Proposals to extend the current exemption of small sites from having to make section 106 payments were slated as a way of helping smaller developers bounce back from the economic impact of the pandemic. Shelter said social housing "could face extinction" if the requirement for developers to build their fair share was removed. "Section 106 agreements between developers and councils are tragically one of the only ways we get social homes built these days, due to a lack of direct government investment," said its chief executive, Polly Neate.

    The proposals contain scant detail on any alternative way to boost the number of affordable homes, promising only that they will not decrease.

    The white paper proposes a consultation on developers making in-kind payments of affordable homes toward the levy or allowing local authorities to buy a proportion of affordable housing at a discounted rate.

    4. Solving the wrong problem

    The Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) condemned them as disruptive and rushed, saying 90% of planning applications are currently approved but there are up to 1m unbuilt permissions. This is enough to meet the Conservatives house building targets for the next 3 years
    5 Local Democracy

    Hugh Ellis, director of policy at TCPA, added: "It's about local democracy. When local people are walking down the street and come across a new development they didn't know about, the answer will now be: 'You should have been involved in the consultation eight years ago when the code was agreed.'

    "It's diluting the democratic process. At the moment, people get two chances to be involved: once when the plan is made, and once when a planning application is submitted. Now they'll only have a chance when the code is being prepared."
    Not surprisingly property developers have welcomed the plans. This represents good value for the £11m they have donated to the Conservative party ( 24% of the total) in the 9 months to March
  • lsbr (Thanks to Daniel Schludi for sharing their work on Unsplash.)
    Article: Aug 6, 2020

    In early June when the Government suddenly imposed a quarantine on foreign travellers we asked why then and not at the time the virus was spreading fast here earlier in the spring see https://southsuffolklibdems.org.uk/en/article/2020/1362921/time-to-quarantine

    Well the Parliamentary Home Affairs Committee has now said that the government could have curbed the spread of Covid-19 in the UK if it had introduced its quarantine on arrivals into the country at an earlier stage. The committee's report supported the government's decision not to close borders early on in the pandemic to enable a "large number" of British nationals abroad to return home but insisted that the quarantine should have been in force far sooner.

    It called the government's decision not to introduce the measures until June a "serious error",

    Before the quarantine law came into place in June, the only border measure required passengers from China's Hubei Province where the virus first appeared, parts of South Korea, Iran and Italy to self-isolate for 14 days if arriving in February or early March.

    The committee said that the government should have included Spain in its early arrangements, and was critical that the emphasis was placed on Asian countries rather than recognising the potential for the virus to come from Europe.

    It criticised the government's move of ending self-isolation advice on March 13 for any asymptomatic individuals arriving from abroad. "At a time when other countries were introducing stronger border measures, the UK was lifting them

    Citing scientific evidence, the committee said that thousands of people with the virus may well have entered the UK between March 13 and March 23 when the lockdown was ordered.

    The committee said: "It is highly likely that this contributed to the rapid increase in the spread of the virus in mid-March and to the overall scale of the outbreak in the UK.

    "The failure properly to consider the possibility of imposing stricter requirements on those arriving - such as mandatory self-isolation, increased screening, targeted testing or enforceable quarantine - was a serious error."

    It added that the decision to go back on self-isolation guidance for some international arrivals early on was a "very different" approach to other nations, concluding that countries which had introduced stringent border measures earlier on had been proven to be "justified" in their move.

    A spokesperson for the Home Office responded: "With passenger numbers significantly reduced [later in the pandemic], the scientific advice was clear that quarantine measures for those entering the country from abroad would be most effective when the UK has a lower level of infection.

    The Home Affairs Committee chair, Labour's Yvette Cooper, said t. "We've seen no science behind that decision at all - and it's that lack of science, lack of transparency that's so concerning".

  • beap (Thanks to Agence Olloweb for sharing their work on Unsplash.)
    Article: Aug 5, 2020
    With only a month to go until schools reopen in England the Lancet magazine the weekly peer-reviewed medical journal. has just published the results of modelling of the impact of opening schools the main conclusions of which were
    Our model predicts that reopening schools either full time or in a part-time rota system from Sept 1, 2020, alongside relaxation of other social distancing measures will induce a second COVID-19 wave in the absence of a scaled-up testing programme This second wave would peak in December, 2020, if schools open full time in September, and in February, 2021, if a part-time rota system were adopted. In either case, the second wave would be 2·0-2·3 times larger than the first COVID-19 wave in the UK.
  • dw
    Article: Aug 3, 2020

    David Wood our County Councillor for Penninsular Division has posted his August report.

    As always it is an interesting read with news that the Home but not Alone scheme is being suspended, the sad closure of Age UK Suffolk, and delays to the cuts in childrens centres. Recommendations on how the Council will rise to the climate energency and the latest debate on Sizewell development are also featured. The full report can be read by clicking here

  • key
    Article: Aug 3, 2020

    Robert Jenrick announced a "permission in principle" will be given to developments on land designated "for renewal" to speed-up building.

    However, he did not specify the criteria for designating land under these proposals.. Areas of outstanding natural beauty and the green belt will be protected.