This is black Wednesday for town planning. The publication of the ‘Draft Presumption in Favour of Sustainable Development’ – see previous post – sees a reductive ‘definition’ of sustainable development as neigh-on equivalent to all development.
The importance of development plans is downgraded, as are social and environmental matters.
Planning just gets in the way, so it is barged out of the way. Planning is only considered useful so long as it says ‘yes’, so yes where ‘possible’ which means almost always, its always possible.
Little chance to say – no until you get it better. Appeals wont be decided on what is best for a site, only if it meets the new lower, way lower thresholds. The ability to negotiate real improvements will be cut away.
Planning inspectors will become mere commissars of the pickensian state, enforcing costs against councils because they didnt swiftly and immediately approve the rubbish presented to them but had the gall to say a developer had had cut corners and could do better.
Councillors, despite being told that the new rules will mean that they must approve schemes the planners despise will, as ever, feel they cannot vote for unpopular schemes. Back to the dark ages of appeal-led planning.
Green belts and gardens are sacrosanct, as are open areas valued by the community – everywhere. So plans will not progress as there is nowhere left except the industrial estates that cannot be protected, even if they are full, and there is nowhere else for business to go. The real enemies of enterprise will blaim the planners of course.
Councillors locked in rooms will be told they have a duty to cooperate, but no sanction if they dont, so they wont, and no indication if they should provide jobs just enough for their shrinking working age population, or enough for a tiger economy. As soon as more land is provided for business it will be built on for housing, so why allocate any at all? Just sit it out, 70% of local planning authorities have, so a few more years wont make a difference.
Parishes will fight tooth and nail against the housing pushed away from growth areas and strategic green belt releases, leading to massive displaced pressure to small country towns and villages the government now sees as the mainspring of growth. Why rush to prepare a neighbourhood plan if it means endorsing a core strategy allocation for that area – sit it out first.
Chief Planners will take redundancy, the job wont be filled, look its a saving were protecting front line services! Jobs will be merged. Six months later the chief planner post will be advertised, they will create a tier below them but with no budget natural wastage will pay for it, less planners to do the work.
When the economy finally recovers the shortages of housing caused by the abolition of targets will lead to prices shooting up. Burst, bubble, burst. The houses will be empty and half built, the economy in ruins, they will say no-one needs the houses, look they are empty, and blame the planners for it all.