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Transition Town Bolton LDF submission to Bolton Council – Increasing job creation, building cheaper housing with very low energy prices (£90-140/year) and addressing food poverty

27.1.12 – Original LDF submission.

14.2.12 – Updated  (see notes at the bottom of this page)

To Cliff Morris (Head of the Council) Keith Davies (Director of Development and Regeneration) Tim Hill (Head of Planning)

CC Julie Hilling MP, Linsey Kell, Pat Barrow,

Transition Town Bolton - Without prejudice or malice.


1. We object to all policies relating to building on brownfield sites unless the town really is prepared to secure the towns 35% of affordable housing land and the jobs they create in a more meaningful way that can secure the kind of future proof jobs and affordable housing as described below.


2. We object to all policies that allocate green sites becoming housing for the reasons described further below.

Inner Bolton  (10SC,11SC,21SC,23SC,24SC,26SC,27SC,31SC,36SC)

North Bolton (49SC,55SC)

West Bolton (41SC,42SC,44SC,48SC)

Breightmet (57SC,59SC,61SC,62SC,65SC,66SC,67SC,68SC,70SC,71SC)

Little Lever and Kearsley (74SC,75SC,77SC,78SC,83SC,85SC,86SC)

Farnworth (91SC,92SC,93SC,94SC)

Westhoughton (107SC,109SC,111SC – Edge Farm – this is a 9 acre farm! How sad if we deny future generations the ability to grow here)

Horwich and Blackrod  (116SC,119SC,121SC,122SC,124SC,125SC,)


Dear Cliff Morris,

As leader of the council we understand that central government have set some development targets for Bolton Council for the next 14 years and that those targets have been agreed in March 2011.


We understand the pressure this puts on the Council who stand between a central government that won’t be there in 2026 and the local population that will be left with the remnants of those targets.

In summary this means.


200 sites have been identified in every area of Bolton from a computer screen – no one has visited them.

432 football pitch size bits of land are being allocated for development in Bolton over the next 14 years (The Core Plan up to 2026).

38 of the sites are playing fields, open space, green field, greenbelt, farmland in every part of Bolton.

Most of the rest are for housing and employment land and about 35% of the housing has to be for affordable homes


Bolton Council accept that the impact of building on the proposed sites in the Borough will result in more homes & more private car trips, increasing traffic, congestion and contribute to climate change, though the vast majority are planned for urban areas & close to bus routes. The targets that they have been set are largely government targets that assume a % of growth annually and they then allocate X amount of land growth accordingly. We accept this is only a government target and you are ready to consult further.


Most of the thinking behind these plans was based on business as usual targets from 2008 when global melt down was in full swing.


ARUP (The ARUP Employment Land Study (2008) suggested Bolton needed 175-195 hectares of employment land and other experts put targets that aim to build around 12,000 new homes across the borough 35% of them are supposed to be affordable.


Since 2008 The Royal Institute of Town Planners have recently (December 2010) highlighted that many of the nations Core Strategies are missing vital planning details that specifically address risks to plans should oil prices rise or oil shortages become more regular due to the many geo-political events in the world today and due to an increasing number of oil refineries shutting down or becoming stranded assets that no-one wishes to invest in as crude oil gets harder to find. The term that the Royal Institute of Town Planners refer to is known as Peak Oil (links below). The Royal Institute of Town Planners invited the nations planners to an event to include peak oil thinking specifically food security / growing local food into the nations Core Strategy Development Planning and indicated that peak oil will affect plans such Boltons core strategy within the next 14 years – that’s within the lifetime of the existing plan.


Members of Transition Town Bolton have been in contact with Cliff Morris (Head of the Council), Keith Davies (Head of Development and Regeneration), Tim Hill (Head of Planning) and Julie Hilling MP and pointed out concerns that the Royal Institute of Town planners have over the lack of understanding or reference to food security in particular, and other travel planning issues that Peak Oil will have within the next 14 years in the town. To be fair we understand that it is early days for planning officers and councils to fully comprehend the peak oil impacts but they are trying to be as flexible as possible within the targets they have been set by government and as more evidence arrives we’re sure that the Council will respond effectively and make more informed longer term decisions. We would also like to thanks Julie Hilling MP and Keith Davies (Director of Development and Regeneration) who responded to our initial questions stating that he is willing to look at the impacts of peak oil in future plans. We reassure Bolton Council that we are not here to rant and rave but we exist to positively bind together better low energy thinking and proven ways forward in light of the towns future with access to less cheap oil and gas and all that that means for the affordability of homes and the ability to heat them.


Therefore we have 2 specific objections with 2 specific and we think achievable aims for the next 14 year period.


1. Whilst Transition Town don’t object to any building on brownfeild sites we do object until 35% of the land is gifted into a community land trust in perpetuity for the towns younger generations so that they can either become involved in their own self build housing scheme similar to the Sensible Housing Coop in Bolton that continues to provide affordable housing for families 20 years after it was established with rents in the very very affordable category giving them the confidence and powers to take control of their own future and allowing the buildings be built to code 5-6 or passiv haus standard below so the homes are virtually free to run and climate friendly and that can easily be achieved in Bolton. By opening your hearts and minds to these possibilities and separating the land value from the cost of the home the home can be built using existing cavity wall building skills that the industry already has, and provide much needed low carbon jobs to build 4200 homes across the Borough at a cheap price and the homes would cost in the region of £90-140 a year to keep warm. This in our opinion is the very least the the towns next generation of families deserve as they too try to make a life for themselves in a system they never designed in a world where every town needs real examples of low carbon housing. Lets help them, lets be the pioneers and lets take this opportunity to really pull together and deliver the 4200 homes to this standard, provide local jobs and attract the kind of skills and meaningful employment that is so desperately needed in the town.


We encourage the governments development partners experts, lawyers and investment bankers to look past the age of perpetual growth that gave you all everlasting development sites and endless supply chains and towards a future that you’d like your children and their grandchildren to thank you for as you too reach an age where you rely on their good generosity knowing that these first steps and local skills could in the next 14 years be something you benefit from as you retire into similar accommodation that is already proven to work as we all transition into a more expensive oil and gas future. By doing this TTBolton believe that the need to burn fossil fuels will reduce and the towns income will not rely as heavily on imported fuels from around the globe. A Win Win situation.

If done correctly that would place about 8% of the homes in Bolton as virtually zero carbon. An intelligent development plan would guide those skills and jobs onto further renovations across the towns other 100,000 dwellings to  low energy standards therby increasing the desirability of Bolton for people to settle in as gas and oil get more expensive. We really have a chance if we have dialogue with the town and prove we can do it before July 2012 when the LDF gets submitted in September 2012.


2. Whilst Transition Town Bolton don’t object to affordable housing we do object to building on playing fields, open space, farmland, and greenfield sites listed above that may be required for growing food should oil price rises affect the most vulnerable in the town. We think it’s prudent to hold back. Many green sites might also prove useful areas for education, in particular enhancing the residents understanding of how easy it is to get in involved in providing your own food, fruit, fuels and many other remedies & herbs over the year. Thats excluding the many health benefits & exercise that can be gained from working outdoors across the Borough over the seasons and with other food and nature groups such as the Wildlife Trust, Community Allotments, School Growing Projects that engage the future generations, Community coppicing groups where residents responsibly manage woodland and get back useful wood for use as fuels to use over the summer in bread ovens for tasty low energy summer baking etc. For those that understand food security this is what is missing deeply within the thinking and Public Relations smog that drifts out of centralised Government policy documentation and television blurb. This is proving very useful up in Lancaster and Preston with the Lancashire Wildlife Trust & Transition South Ribble up there getting involved, training people and actively managing a variety of new and ancient woodlands so there are huge opportunities to do something useful with all of the land that does not have concrete on it. The fact that the LDF allocations are already playing fields and farmland and that they have been identified as housing land with no one visiting is however beyond human comprehension.


Another rising tide to look out for are Food Forests that are becoming wide spread and are designed to provide a dense area of free fruits, food, remedies and other habitat for birds & bees that make small areas far more productive than an acre of arable land making it more beneficial than leaving land unproductive or by building on it no matter what and then expecting food to travel 2000 diesel miles to it. Some experts like Martin Crawford estimates that you can feed more people per acre from a food forest gardening than putting all you eggs in one basket such as modern agriculture, infact some people say modern agriculture is simply the practice of turning oil into food. As the wonderful BBC Farm for The Future documentary points out, the whole of the UK needs to really think over it’s food culture and see local food culture as a top priority.


We invite the Planners and Team at Bolton Council to look in their hearts and become receptive to these ideas before Bolton is buried in bricks and stranded from the cheap oil and gas that make them affordable. Lets work together & be prepared to make changes to the local development framework allocations and in time rethink the core strategy in light of evidence of the changes that peak oil may bring to the town so please see this as a breath of fresh air with a community of very positive and helpful residents who do have a story of a future beyond an economy that is entirely dependent on cheap oil. We invite you to take part in that sustainable vision for the future with open minds and step out of your roles to look anew.


There are no fears for a world with rising gas and oil prices if we act now, choose the right development path and we act together in the public interest. It’s the town we live in that counts.


All of these things are set to make Bolton a more resilient town and increase the towns social cohesion giving real direction instead of just more development as usual from central government at a time of great global uncertainty.


Good luck to all of you and may doing the right thing be the change we all want to see in the world in 2012.


All the best

TT Bolton – Steering Group


If you have not heard about peak oil a very useful starting point is this.

Royal Town Planning Institute -

A REVIEW of the Royal Planning report is here

Please see - The UK’s first Passiv House – £75 a year to heat -



Since writing the above we have had a meeting with 2 of Bolton Councils planning officers with a view to building a relationship around the above ideas – there is alot at stake for everyone in Bolton.

Affordable housing is one of 8 major vital sectors in Bolton – if We (*) understand what it really is and what it really means in terms of real and meaningful long term occupations within the limits of the remaining oil and gas resources available to us.

The 4200 Affordable homes represent 35% of Bolton Councils housing allocation of about 12,000 homes over 14 years and they can be built in Bolton with existing skills if we want to. But affordable means the same to all other home owners in Bolton.

Lets first define We (*) or We (**) or We (***)

We (*) is the ability for all of the people who live in Bolton to be able to afford the current & future energy and resource needs for their housing including but not limited to Young Families/Homeless/Elderly/ and including the certainty that Passiv Homes deliver (90% less Gas heating) over an 80 year span if we care to think in human life times then we can have human scale occupations again and do away with that horrible word – job. A job is putting a bracket on a wall. An occupation is something of great benefit to a village, town or nation where you give your life to something meaningful in return for others doing the same.

We (**) is anyone not mentioned in the above We (*).

We (***) is anyone that does not understand why you would want to provide affordable homes in the We (*) context above. Please re-read this page and imagine what the woodland around your home will look like with 260,000 people from Bolton looking for wood in 14 years (2026) to burn over winter. Remember that England came within 4 days of running out of Gas on 20th Feb 2009  (Hansard 1) and this would have stopped electricity generators, ruined food in most of Boltons freezers and sent millions of people to the local woods with saws – including you reading this. Since then England has doubled it’s gas storage capacity to 8 days. Yes we have 8 days of gas storage supply as a nation.

That is our current energy policy. That is how much we understand energy. That has to change or we are heading for trouble.

We burn 16,000 tons of Coal a day in the power station at Ellesmere Port so we can power our NorthWest face book economy. The coal is a mixture that we import from America (ohio and wyoming). The coal is mixed near Florida and shipped daily to Liverpool. A train brings the coal to the power station. The power station uses 195 Million litres of water daily to cool it down. Only 6% of the total available energy actually reaches your front room due to the many energy loses. That one power station contributes over 50% of the Northwests Carbon Emissions.

Bolton can also burn upto 20 tons of waste PER HOUR at the local Incinerator and generate 11MW of electricity.

So we have a choice when we think about ‘development’ and where we get Gas and Electricity from for our Homes.

The very low gas heating requirements in Passiv houses that we are advocating above would surely make much better use of our building skills and jobs going forward and better use of the 8 days of gas storage this island has and might just save all those woods around the Bolton and other towns across the nation should we ever have cold winters again or Gas prices exceed local peoples budgets. (Hansard 2).

Thinking about doing this on this large scale also includes the possibility of 80 years of fixed and affordable housing services that we can define right now. It’s something we can do but not by doing a bit here and bit there and waiting for a policy here and policy there a nod and a wink from a building called parliament. It’s 80 YEARS OF CERTAINTY FOR OUR GRANDCHILDREN. KNOWING THEY WON’T HAVE TO RUN OUT TO THE WOODS AND CUT DOWN THE APPLE TREES THAT WE PLANTED FOR FOOD IN 2012 TO HEAT THEIR BADLY BUILT HOMES THAT WE SPECIFIED IN 2012 because we were waiting for the ‘economy’ to recover.

On that note, we have other responsibilities.

It would be especially fitting for the UK, the first industrialised nation, to show other countries how to move from fossil fuels towards an affordable system which utilises existing technologies to provide energy security after fossil fuels and mitigate climate change. This would offer to position the UK as a leader and role model. [AECB 1]

Unsuccessful moves in energy and climate change policy, relative to the UK‟s international competitors, could set in motion a serious long-term decline in its fortunes.[AECB 1]

Climate change policy should be developed equitably, in the interests of all citizens, and not allowed to impact disproportionately on low-income groups. The situation should be regularly reassessed. Proposed policies should also set out the potential environmental and economic burden, if any, which they place on future UK generations. [AECB 1]

Technologies to reduce the CO2 intensity of an activity by 70% now are more beneficial than those which reduce its CO2 intensity by say 10% now and 70% in 2030. Government should prioritise and support technologies delivering earlier, larger CO2 reductions. [AECB 1]

We (*) are entering an age of Energy Scarcity and there are no high street banks that can print energy. That is one of three reasons why the banking system is all seized up. They made big investments in stuff that depletes global resources and they did it on an epic scale; leaving the whole system fully seized up on debt obligations and at a time when global resources needed to pay off those debts are clearly in short supply [Grantham 1 & 2]. Many of the worlds leading investment funds now also realise that the world ran out of cheap oil in 2005-2006 and that many of the minerals and rare metals needed for the iphone generation to expand are also in short global supply (Grantham 1 & 2). In Davos this year (2012) they know all this and they know the implications of this. So do the elite politicians. Ask Vince Cable about Peak Oil and he knows.

That’s why the whole experiment of Building homes has to turn around and has to become low carbon and low energy material input using skills that are locally available.

So lets just be clear what we’re ‘building’ in our local environment going forward and why.

We’re building ‘affordable housing’ to avoid having to come back to the situation where heating Gas runs out suddenly OR becomes so expensive that people head for the woods with a saw.

If we are smart we’ll get 10% of new homes in Bolton (heart of the industrial revolution) to this standard in 14 years.

If we are really smart we’ll make it work at scale.

1. Banks (public & private pension funds and private sometime international investors) are bankrupt until they shed (dump it on the tax payer) or gift their debts away (haircuts – eg Greece). In the meantime we are still operating a system where Business rely on Banks for credit to operate in a market that is running out of the physical energy and resource inputs needed to drive ‘economic’ growth that got us all here so fast in the first place.

Governments rely on taxes from (FTSE 100 blue chips, Banks, Small business and People) to repay loans for that Governments take out when Banks and Business Fail for whatever reason because we always think we can avoid boom and bust despite the proven facts that it keep happening.

It’s about time that we realised that without access to cheap oil, gas and other essential earth minerals that the above experiment cannot carry on for even one more generation. Hence the immense seize up in global markets.

The whole of the operating system we live in relies on the flow of cheap oil, that releases credit from banks that funds an expanding array of metals and minerals that are transported around the world that business rely on to make widgets to fill shops and to train people in whole new industries that government rely on to pay back their loans when economies fail.

Lets say that again.

We do not have any other option than to build an economy that can live within it’s resource base.

And we have a huge amount of uncertainty over how we’re going to get there.

So we have a huge amount of ‘commitments and skills’ sat around in an economy that can no longer support traditional employment thinking.

Lets say that again.

We do not have any other option than to build an economy that can live within it’s resource means and we don’t have any other option than to let what doesn’t work any longer fail. That’s what’s happening slowly but no one is actully saying it on television but every high street is showing that the old economy has failed again nationally.

So we have to have a New Story for where those new jobs and skills are going to come from and that Story is starting to come from ordinary people who live in Bolton that are passionate about solving these complex issues.

When more of the town of Bolton begin to see the Old Story/Economy for what it was they too will want to contribute to a new Story. Only then are we going to come up with a few new Samuel Cromptons and get on with a new way of doing things.

If we were really smart as a nation, we’d find a way of putting peoples minds at rest and build the exact opposite of what we’ve just spent 200 years doing, we’d build a reverse economy (reverse/convert/re-weave or delete all the nations debt before we break everything we rely on) and re-set the Spinning Jenny  to only weave the new low energy occupations we’ll need in the very near future in every town in every nation.

Imagine if we were that imaginative. A reverse economy with a vibrant and resilient future ahead.

Imagine if we’re not.

Welcome to Transition Town Bolton, weaving the stories of yesterday into the stories of how we evolved beyond oil and debt and became the first reverse national economy.

References – for those seeking deeper understanding of GAS.

Hansard 1A speech given by Hansard in Parliament 5th March  2009

“For the second time in only four winters, we almost ran out of gas, and almost did not have sufficient gas to meet demand.according to a written answer that the Minister gave me only this morning, only the depressed state of the economy,due to the recession, saved us from running out.”

Greg Clark (Tunbridge Wells) (Con): On 20 February this year—two weeks ago—Britain hit a new low, with just four days-worth of gas in storage in the reserve. Does the Minister consider that an acceptable margin for safety?

Mr. O’Brien: It is not about how many days worth of gas there are. The amount of gas in storage at a given point cannot meaningfully be assessed in terms of days. Stored gas is not used on its own to meet UK demand in any way. North sea gas reserves put the UK in a position unlike that of other countries. Yes, we need gas storage, and we will need to increase the amount of storage as our imports increase, but we still have a substantial amount of gas coming from the North sea. That means that we do not need quite the amount of storage capacity that other countries do, although we will need to improve gas storage capacity in future as North sea gas depletes and imports rise.


Hansard 2 - 29 Jun 2010 – The reality is that we currently have eight days‘ gas storage-more than we have had for a very long time, and after depletion from a cold winter. –  -

AECB 1 – Less is More – Page 151 is full of evidence as to why we should be doing this. -

Grantham 1 & 2

Resource scarcity – The materials we built the last 50 years out of are no longer available in the quantities that nations thought we available. Hence the global seize up.

Resource Limitations – There are limits to the resources we actually have left for nations to ‘carry on with business as usual’. Hence the global seize up.


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