Remembering the late Andrew Gilbart

The Hon. Mr Justice Gilbart holds a special place in my career. While he was still a planning barrister, I was an expert witness for him on a case involving land contamination.

He worked all his experts hard, expected detailed, meticulous evidence and supported us while we prepared for and gave oral evidence.

He took time to explain the procedures and the significance of events as the appeal proceeded.

It was a privilege to gain my first experience as an expert witness under his direction.

RIP Andrew


GE17 manifesto musings: Forward together, Conservatives

A few years ago, HM Treasury documents made detailed reference to ‘brownfield’ sites. Forward Together makes none.

Green Belt merits a single mention, in the context of the ‘strong protection’ such designated areas are supposed to enjoy, unless it is in Broxtowe it seems.

Other ‘pointless’ terms are: waste, renewable, previously developed land, surplus, unwanted.

So our green and pleasant land doesn’t really get much of a look in…

I think, therefore… I vote

“I think, therefore I am.”

I THINK giving Coventry Lane playing fields to the White Hills Park trust, a private company limited by guarantee, is wrong, THEREFORE I AM a candidate for the County Council elections on 4 May.

I hope you, dear readers, will think the same and say to yourselves “I am going to vote for PAUL NATHANAIL” on 4 May.

An article in last Wednesday’s Times caught my eye. It’s about a ‘damning’ report on over spending on free schools while ‘other schools were crumbling’.

More places are needed, ‎420,000 by 2021 it seems. The report apparently shows that half of new places in free schools will not be needed. And anyway places in free schools cost 50% more than those in local authority ‘maintained’ schools.

The leader of the Association of School and College Leaders laid down a £6.7 billion gauntlet before the new government. That is how ‎much is needed to ‘return all existing school buildings to satisfactory or better condition’ and maintain them.

I do not agree with Labour party policies that have essentially nationalised parenting over the past twenty years. Conversely it seems the Conservative policy of privatising state education is both wasteful and‎ inefficient.

Bramcote & Beeston North as well‎ as all divisions in Nottinghamshire should return county councillors who will work to keep state education fit for purpose starting by keeping public land and buildings in public hands.

Oh, that report? It was the Public Accounts Committee on the Department for Education

If you think you’d like to help stop the planned giveaway‎ of the Coventry Lane playing fields, please vote PAUL NATHANAIL on 4 May.

Paul Nathanail is the independent ‎candidate for Bramcote and Beeston North in the Nottinghamshire County Council elections.

Please consider voting for PAUL NATHANAIL on 4 May 2017 to help retain land and school buildings in public ownership.

This message is promoted by Peter Nathanail on behalf of Paul Nathanail, both of 8 6 Moor Lane, Bramcote

Invitation to Paul Nathanail’s web-meeting on Labour’s proposed ‘great giveaway’ of the Coventry Lane playing fields

Why would a Labour-controlled county council want to give away the Coventry Lane Playing Fields to an independent academy trust? 

Find out more during a short web-based meeting with Paul Nathanail, today at 5pm. 

Paul will speak for no more than 15 minutes and then answer questions sent in by those watching. 

Please register for:
On Earth Day 2017, Paul Nathanail asks “What on earth was Labour thinking of?”
on Apr 22, 2017 5:00 PM BST at:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email from the webhosting server (LQM trainer) containing information about joining the webinar.

If you cannot make it, then register anyway and Paul will send you a recording to watch at your leisure. 

I hope to meet up this afternoon.

Paul Nathanail
Candidate for Bramcote and Beeston North in the Nottinghamshire County Council elections. 

Please consider voting for PAUL NATHANAIL on 4 May 2017 to help retain land and school buildings in public ownership

Promoted by Peter Nathanail on behalf of Paul Nathanail, both of 86 Moor Lane, Bramcote

Humpty Dumpty goes to court – or when is a garden (not) a brownfield?

“When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’

Broxtowe Borough Council is in the throes of preparing its Local Plan – Part 2.  Not so much a sequel to the Aligned Core Strategy on whose altar was sacrificed the Green Belt first of Field Farm and now seemingly in Toton but an essential component of the Local Plan.  A sort of Deathly Hallows Part 2 if you will.

This time last year Broxtowe, then under Labour/ Liberal Democrat control, undertook a consultation on the green belt – under a banner of “tidying up” the green belt – in which large swathes of  green belt were being offered up as suitable for development in order to meet the Council’s own adopted housing need.

The present Conservative government is consulting on changes to its own 2012 vintage National Planning Policy Framework. The consultation period was extended to Monday 22 February – tomorrow as I write this.  One of the suggestions is that brownfield sites in the green belt should be more readily allowed to be redeveloped for ‘starter homes’.

This would mean that brownfield sites in the green belt (such as a former school) would get planning permission. The danger of starter homes in the green belt is it would eat into the green belt with housing – meaning that it would subsequently be easier to argue that development on adjacent “green” undeveloped areas of green belt could then simply be seen as infill. In the long (or perhaps medium) term it would mean the demise of swathes of green belt and the merging of settlements.

A recent High Court case upheld a decision that whereas gardens are not previously developed land (a term considered in the NPPF as synonymous with brownfield) if the garden is in an urban area gardens in rural areas are previously developed land (brownfields).  This then begs the question of what is the definition of an urban or rural area.

The reason definitions of terms matters is that the government is planning on requiring local authorities to develop a register of brownfield sites, and specifically those that are suitable for housing, and is minded to grant such sites in the green belt automatic planning permission for “starter homes” (i.e. costing less than £250,000 outside London).

Perhaps it is fitting to give the last word to Lewis Carroll’s characters:

’The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’

’The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master — that’s all.”

Consultation on proposed changes to national planning policy

The Government is currently consulting on amendments to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).
The consultation is available at: (you may need to cut and paste the URL into a browser rather than clicking)
The consultation is examining changes in the following areas:
·         broadening the definition of affordable housing, to expand the range of low cost housing opportunities for those aspiring to own their new home
·         increasing residential density around commuter hubs, to make more efficient use of land in suitable locations
·         supporting sustainable new settlements, development on brownfield land and small sites, and delivery of housing allocated in plans
·         supporting delivery of starter homes
Given the current debate in Broxtowe about land use and housing, the specific focus on housing in the consultation is noteworthy and something our councillors would do well do keep in mind as they formulate part 2 of the local plan and make decisions about key sites in the borough.
It is worth contrasting the lack of focus on residential provision in Beeston town centre by both the present Conservative council and the predecessor Labour/ Lib Dem coalition with a desire to see Increasing residential density around commuter hubs.  Our brand new tram-bus interchange and the adjacent Phase 2 of the Town Centre look like the perfect place for high density residential development. Yet our council seems to be focusing only on leisure related land uses for a strategically important tract of land that could help improve the economic viability of both Beeston town centre and the shops along Chilwell High Street – both “a short walk away” as the voice-over on the bus might say.
The consultation reinforces the commitment to protecting the Green Belt and maintaining the strong safeguards on Green Belt set out in national planning policy. This promise to protect the Green Belt of course was also a mainstay of successful candidates in both the general and local election.  Only 0.1% of land in the Green Belt is previously developed land suitable for housing, often with structures or buildings in place. Limited infilling or the partial or complete redevelopment of such land – where this would not have a greater impact on the openness of the Green Belt and the purpose of including land within it than the existing development – is already deemed not inappropriate.
Anyone who wants to respond to the consultation can do so by the deadline of 22 February 2016 online at:

Wanted: urban land for housing

Broxtowe Borough Council is looking for extra housing sites to augment its Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment.

Specifically it is asking land owners, or their agents, for sites that are:

vacant, derelict or underused
where business is considering re-location
large garden plots
suitable for conversions of existing buildings.

If you can help, call 0115 917 3482 or email

why are they doing this? to avoid having to erode the green belt of course. This is the 5th function of the green belt: to encourage reuse of urban land and to minimise urban sprawl.

it is noteworthy that the word ‘brownfield’ is not mentioned. The above types of land would meet the definition of brownfield widely used across Europe.

Well done Broxtowe! (and if any readers have any underemployed land, do contact the council).

Summer Budget July 2015: brownfields, what brownfields?

The Chancellor’s budget speech earlier this week was the first such speech delivered on behalf of a Conservative government in two decades.

The Chancellor made no mention of brownfields in his speech so we await with interest news from elsewhere on how the election manifesto commitments will be taken forward.

The speech is available at:

BHCA planning sub committee stand at Hemlock Happening 2015: looking back & looking forward

Two weeks from today it will all be over. But on Saturday 6 June the Bramcote Hills Community Association’s Planning Sub Committee will have a stand at the Hemlock Happening (

Hemlock Happening is sponsored by NET & CASTLE ROCK BREWERY. This event is organised by Broxtowe Events in conjunction with The Bramcote & Stapleford Golden Jubilee Group.

Our stand will include activities for children to do with their parents based around both the theme of the event (it is the 71st anniversary of D-Day) and imagining what Bramcote will look like in 2086 (71 years from now).  There will be displays of the D Day campaign, focusing on the geological aspects of the Normandy Coast.

See you there!

Highfields Park, Restoration Plans, Guided Walk – May 24th

What a pleasant way to spend a Sunday afternoon!

Beeston & District Civic Society

Highfields Park Highfields Park – Restoration Plans Guided Walk

Head on over to the walks page to find out about this new walk that has been organised.

With the new restoration work at Highfields Park, have a tour by the park ranger to find out what’s happening on this important, beautiful and local park. All the details on the page. 

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