This green and bungalow land?

The continuance of PPS14, the planning measure restricting the development of single dwellings in the countryside, is expected to come under severe pressure. The SDLP’s John Dallat has called for its reversal. However, the Alliance party, Green MLA Brian Wilson and the DUP’s Jim Wells are fighting a rearguard action. Anti-campaigners describe it as an attack on rural communities. Supporters believe the large number of unbuilt houses already approved (up to 9500) and the thousands of pending applications not covered by the new controls is being overlooked. DRD Minister Conor Murphy is reviewing the situation.

  • Oranges for Sale

    Irelands landscape has changed irreversibly over the last three centuries with extensive 17th century deforestation of the countryside turning this island into the least tree-covered area in Europe.
    Today, in the 21st century the latest blight on the countryside is the housing boom. People in this province should realise that the countryside is a finite resource and once a housing development is built in an area, that area has been aesthetically scarred forever. So young farmers have a problem with PPS14 because they can’t build new dwellings? Boo Hoo, it must be terrible having all that land.

  • I Wonder

    I think Arlene Foster rather than Conor is reviewing this. 🙂

  • Gewurztraminer

    No, it’s Conor. PPS14 is a DRD policy.

    I suspect that this will be an example of the unholy alliace doing what they see as best for their farming supporters. Parish Pump politics at its worst. The National Park debate is anpother example.

    The advocates of STV argue that our political system (in common with the South) means that the wishes of the electorate at a local level are well articulated at the highest level of Government. It also means that politicians fear taking unpopular decisions which result in short term local difficulties.

  • IJP

    No no, I wonder, Foster has asked for a review of road safety. Murphy will have to ask for a review of PPS14.

    Tens of thousands for ministerial advisers even when they had no ministers, tens of thousands in salary, and apparently the Executive parties haven’t a single policy between them.

    The next four years will be one long “review”, it seems. Is that what they were elected to do?

  • Daisy

    I hope this decision isn’t reversed. Much as I would love to move back to the countryside where I grew up, I would much rather see green fields than ugly bungalows. As for it being an “attack on rurual communities”, I’d like to see a study of how many of the bungalows built recently have been immediately sold to the highest bidder.

    The countryside should be preserved and if some of us (myself included) can’t afford to live there, then so be it. It’s not an automatic right.

  • prolefodder

    PPS14 is a modest step in the right direction. It speaks volumes about the economic and short-sighted ‘consensus’ between all 4 main parties (with Wells being a notable exception as a ‘eco-dissident’) all clamouring to help their developer backers concrete over the countryside. Good on the Greens and Alliance for standing up on this one and showing some effective opposition.

  • bob Wilson

    For those who support PPS 14
    http://www.countrysideni.org

  • Is that what they were elected to do?

    Pretty much, IJP. They were elected to show that their side was on board with the peace process which civil servants and the NICVA-NIPSA cabal told them what decisions to make.

    Remember, our system of government is designed to impose consensus, and where consensus is not possible to find (11-plus, PPS 14) to kick issues deep into the long grass.

    Heaven forfend that ministers should actually make decisions and then be accountable to the electorate for them.

    The countryside should be preserved and if some of us (myself included) can’t afford to live there, then so be it.

    What about the people who can’t afford to live anywhere unless they spend their entire life paying off a massive-multiple interest-only mortgage that leaves them not even owning the miniscule flat at the end?

    Oh, sorry, I forgot, we don’t do difficult decisions here.

  • PPS14 is a modest step in the right direction.

    If that’s a modest step in the right direction, how far would you like them to go?

  • George

    I find it ironic that for generations people emigrated from the land and now that finally there are those who actually do want to live on it, the State does all in its power to prevent it.

    The countryside isn’t a theme park for urbanites to spend their weekends driving through and savouring.

    If people want to or have to live in the countryside, then let them. Put in proper legislation so we have properly constructed buildings that live in harmony with the environment.

    Demand that people show a link to the community where they want to build or will have one.

    Prevent selling on for profit by means of either a moratorium on future sales of say 10 years or a local capital gains tax.

    From what I can see PPS14 is an measure imposed on rural people because it has the support of urban people.

  • delta omega

    Well said George. PPS should be implemented to prevent selling of multiple sites for selling on, but should not restrict the rural dweller who needs to improve their property or build a home for their kids.

  • pith

    Surely there should be a role for both the DoE and the DRD ministers in an issue like this – joined up government and all that. If I remember correctly in the last Assembly the UUP and the DUP held those posts so there was no chance of real co-operation. The DUP and SF seem more willing to work together.

    In any case here’s hoping they ban bungalows especially those ones with the big grey garage doors.

  • eranu

    i agree with you george, there has to be some development in the country. if there wasn’t, surely these rural communities would dwindle and die? if the tables were turned and country people said ‘no more development in towns and cities, we think they look nice just the way they are’ im sure the towns and cities would be in big trouble.

    care has to be taken not to spoil the character of picturesque locations, and natural environments like ancient woodland. but alot of the country is just miles of farmers fields. building in these places wont spoil anything.

  • prolefodder

    The missing debate here is ‘sustainable development’ – how to balance development with not destroying natural capital/countryside – of you read PPS 14 its not an urban-based/supported bashing of rural communities, its about preventing the wholesale and unplanned, unregulated building of houses which threaten rural areas through lack of adeqate utilities and small issues like sewage facilties (thanks to Dermot ‘Nuke’ Nesbitt, former Environment Minister for that one!). To present this as some urban assault on rural communities or worse as some Luddite anti-development agenda is to completely miss the point of how PPS14 is a modest attempt to get some ‘joined up’ thinking on sustainable forms of development in norn iron. Some background may be in order: NI before PPS14 had more applications for planning permission for one-off dwellings that the whole of the rest of the UK.

  • The missing debate here is ‘sustainable development’

    Unfortunately, that term means exactly what you want it to mean. It often means ‘no development’.

    worse as some Luddite anti-development agenda is to completely miss the point of how PPS14 is a modest attempt to get some ‘joined up’ thinking on sustainable forms of development in norn iron

    Gibberish. PPS 14 prevents pretty much any development single dwellings in rural areas. There is nothing modest about it. The only people it suits are the already wealthy benefiting from massively increased house prices west of the Bann.

    Some background may be in order: NI before PPS14 had more applications for planning permission for one-off dwellings that the whole of the rest of the UK.

    Some more background information may be in order: NI has a completely different social history and settlement pattern than the rest of the UK. Less people have lived in settlements here and more in open countryside.

    Also, people might be interested in seeing this recent Adam Smith Institute report for an interesting contribution to the debate.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    I have to say I’m a strong supporter of PPS14, even though that particular piece of legislation has cost me personally.

    Much of the debate around this centres on the countryside (and especially on the incredibly urbancentric, bourgeois issue of how pretty we want the countryside to remain). Now, those issues matter, sure, but they aren’t central. One of the most important things about this kind of legislation is the impact it has on towns and cities.

    I think we have a problem in Ireland generally, and in the north particuarly, of having villages, towns and cities that are populated to far lower density than anywhere else in Europe.

    It’s absolutely absurd, but you can be sure there are two guys sharing an office in Dublin today, one of whom has commuted from New Ross, Co Wexford, the other of whom has come from Rostrevor, Co Down. Meanwhile inner city Dublin is the least densely populated large city in Europe. Crazy, but everyone insists on having a large garden and considers living in an apartment (even of the palatial variety common across Europe and in north America’s more European, pre-car cities) to be a mark of poverty.

    Meanwhile in Belfast, it’s only since PPS14 that the gaping holes in the cityscape are being filled in. Presently, my house is in the shadow of no fewer than SIX high-rise cranes working on three large developments within a hundred yards. Huge chunks of real estate that had been idle for years, now being revived. It’s thrilling, and it’s partly because developers are having to devote their energies in the city, rather than building on green-field commuter sites.

    All across the north developments are taking shape in towns like my own beloved Armagh, a town that deathliness overtook in 1969 and which has been as beautiful and still as a mausoleum ever since. PPS14 is helping to breathe new life in towns, where otherwise we would just see more and more one-off bungalows and mansions springing up every hundred yards.

    This in turn could open up a space for increased investment in public transport, a lessening of car-dependency, the revival of town centres and a check on out-of-town malls etc.

    I hope our new administration doesn’t throw away this chance, though I suspect they will.

  • Bill

    Was it revealed in the last census that Belfast is shrinking?

  • idunnomeself

    What about years of paying farmers way over the odds to grow food no one wanted to eat as an example of what townies have ever done for the farmers?

    Will they ever get over themselves? This is all about greed by farmers who want to cash in their land and nothing else and so much nonsense is being spouted by people trying to overturn this rule in the name of ‘first time buyers’ or ‘rural communities’ and goodness knows what other nonsense

    I’ve seen these bungalows, I’ve been in them, people i know own them. They’re not farmers children, i can tell you that! Even if they were where did this ‘right’ to live beside your parents come from?

    It all costs the public purse a fortune trying to provide services to people who live spread out all over the place, never mind the mess it makes of the place

  • but everyone insists on having a large garden and considers living in an apartment (even of the palatial variety common across Europe and in north America’s more European, pre-car cities) to be a mark of poverty.

    Yes, let’s ‘reducate’ people. Great idea.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Sammy

    I take it you mean “re-educate”?

    Nice. Implying something Orwellian in the idea that our prevailing culture is unsustainable in the longer term. Classy.

  • New Yorker

    Maybe the problem here is a large centralized planning bureauracy that is beyond any control, especially any local control. Should not local rural communities have a say about their future? Local people know better than others about their infrastructure and whether they want it expanded rather than so-called experts from cities. Local people should decide the aesthetics of their communities not theme parkers. Perhaps it is time to localize more of planning to the people who live in rural areas and know those areas best. At the same time cities and towns should be developed for and by their residents.

  • Dewi

    “Sinn Fein’s Fra McCann led a debate on what he called the “scandal” of 36,000 houses lying vacant in Northern Ireland at a time of great housing need.”

    From the article:

    Mostly in Belfast I presume. Does sectarian stuff prevent development there ?

  • IJP

    Sort of, Dewi.

    Social segregation means you have rows of empty houses just metres from rows of overcrowded houses.

    Meanwhile, IJP disagrees with Sammy Morse. There’s a first for everything! I’m not going to take him on though, I bet his IQ’s higher than Duncan Shipley-Dalton’s…

  • Aquifer

    Houses scattered over the countryside generate car journeys for most social and economic activities and cost everybody extra for services such as electricity delivered to the end of the wire. Long commutes kill community spirit and stress families.

    SFDUP should do us all a favour, take some bungs, and let developers build new homes next existing towns with railway stops.

  • páid

    how it works south of the border is….

    You decide where you want to live and buy a site. You enrol kids at the local school, get your mate to give you a letter saying you work in his local pub, shop, factory whatever and you apply for planning.
    You claim you HAVE to live in this nice spot because you have to look after your crippled granny who lives up the road (letter from friendly public health nurse) and your separating from your wife and your people have lived in the area since the Gaels invaded Ireland.
    Your friendly councillor has a word with the planner and bob’s your uncle.

    If your smart, you’ll have sold the house in 2 months and ready to apply again up the road using your middle name in Irish.

    €250 000 profit tax-free as it’s your primary residence.

    Now, who wants a bit of the Tiger?

  • Nice. Implying something Orwellian in the idea that our prevailing culture is unsustainable in the longer term. Classy.

    Yes, there is something Orwellian about this as with many aspects of the green movement. I didn’t imply it. I said it straight out. I think the last MORI survey on this subject a few years ago showed that over 50% of people in the UK wanted to live in a detached house, only 3% in a flat. I’ve lived in a flat, and I’ve lived in a detached house, and I know which one I prefer. The simple pleasure of being able to have your Sunday lunch in the garden is one of life’s great joys. Oh, but I forgot, it’s pleasurable so the greenie-lefties want to stop it, or in practice not stop it but confine it to the rich. Like foreign travel, it’s something too good for the proles apparently.

    As for your comments on palatial style flats, yes they are lovely but like most people I couldn’t in a zillion years afford one, and that’s not what’s being built in those new apartment blocks you are talking about. While there are exceptions, by and large, Belfast’s new blocks of flats consist of pokey little rabbit hutches with tissue-paper walls in a hideous looking exterior. Unity Flats bashed into a UFO shape and then painted purple. To use your own word, classy.

    Oh, they stick a few penthouses on top to make the whole thing look good.

    Why do you think so many of these flats are lying empty while Dublin-based speculators shuffle them around in their great Ponzi scheme?

    I bet his IQ’s higher than Duncan Shipley-Dalton’s

    I don’t know what my IQ is but I’d like to think so…

    €250 000 profit tax-free as it’s your primary residence.

    The problem with banning anything is it creates a black market. That, obviously, doesn’t mean that some things shouldn’t be banned but the costs of the black market should be taken into account before you ban something.

    Instead, most inhabitants of Slugger seem to think that if you pass a law, people will obey it and it will stop whatever the thing in question is from happening. Which, given our own history, is obviously not the case…

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Sammy

    “Yes, there is something Orwellian about this as with many aspects of the green movement. I didn’t imply it. I said it straight out.”

    What though? What’s Orwellian about it? Do you have a point, or are you just calling names?

    “I think the last MORI survey on this subject a few years ago showed that over 50% of people in the UK wanted to live in a detached house, only 3% in a flat.”

    Fine, but clearly there has to be a balance between what people ideally want and what is sustainable. I wish everyone could live in a detached house, but I can’t see any way that would be possible. In life, you can’t always get what you want. That’s as true of societies as it is of individuals. That’s why politics is such a messy, adversarial game, and that’s why policy decisions (on, for example, town planning) have to try to balance competing interests and needs. That’s just life.

    “I’ve lived in a flat, and I’ve lived in a detached house, and I know which one I prefer.”

    Good for you.

    “The simple pleasure of being able to have your Sunday lunch in the garden is one of life’s great joys. Oh, but I forgot, it’s pleasurable so the greenie-lefties want to stop it, or in practice not stop it but confine it to the rich.”

    Right, so you want to base your planning policy on having Sunday lunch in the garden? Not on the sixteen hours a week people have to spend driving to work, so they can have their Sunday lunch in the garden? (Instead of spending two hours a week walking/cycling/bussing to work and having MORNINGS and EVENINGS in their lives to spend with their families?

    As for that rather undignified rant about “greeny-lefties” – well, all I can say is that you’re usually an articulate and interesting blogger, so I suppose you can be forgiven an odd lapse.

    “Like foreign travel, it’s something too good for the proles apparently.”

    Be honest Sammy, you don’t give a flying f**k about the “proles”. You’re using them as cover for a bit of McDowellian green/left-bashing. I’ve no interest in joining you in that particular spot of mud wrestling.

    “As for your comments on palatial style flats, yes they are lovely but like most people I couldn’t in a zillion years afford one, and that’s not what’s being built in those new apartment blocks you are talking about.”

    Perhaps the word “palatial” was unhelpful. I’m talking about the kind of apartments you see in Paris or Rome or Barcelona – large, roomy, airy, four-bedroom apartments (in terms of square footage, the same as a decent-sized house here), close to workplaces and public services and affordable for working class and lower middle class families. (Take Paris for example – same population as London but half the size geographically. Now compare the Metro with the Tube. Or better yet, compare Berlin with either.)

    Truth is, on these islands our planning policy is disastrous, based as it is around the lingering peasant mentality that having a bit of land is the only thing. (Or having the Sunday lunch in the garden, if you prefer.)

    “While there are exceptions, by and large, Belfast’s new blocks of flats consist of pokey little rabbit hutches with tissue-paper walls in a hideous looking exterior.”

    Correct. It’s important that new apartments are designed to high specifications, and should be part of an overall strategy. (One wonders if Belfast has ever had a planning strategy.)

  • prolefodder

    Sammy dear, citing the Adam Smith Institute is not a way to back up, but rather undermine your argument! On a related topic, the modest efforts of PPS14 to offer some belated and much needed planning sense in the rampant over and maldevelopment of the countryside pales into insignifiance against the coming tsunami proposed by Brown in relation to ‘fast-tracking’ certain developments in the ‘national interest. See
    http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm?newsid=42029&newsdate=21-May-2007 where ‘climate change’ developments – wind farms being used as cover for more nuke power stations is wrapped up in another layer of smoke and mirrors where developments such as airports, second runways, roads etc are smuggled under the banner of ‘tackling climate change’. Clever politics, and great for developer interests, but crap for people and planet.