Cameron Attacks Planning in Conference Speech

Full text here,  Again not naming the firm, completely unverifiable.

To get our economy on the rise there’s a lot more to do – and frankly a lot more fights to be had. Because there are too many of what I’d call the “yes-but-no” people. The ones who say “yes, our businesses need to expand …but no we can’t reform planning.”

It’s simple. For a business to expand, it needs places to build. If it takes too long, they’ll just build elsewhere.

I visited a business the other day that wanted to open a big factory just outside Liverpool. But the council was going to take so long to approve the decision that they’re now building that factory on the continent – and taking hundreds of jobs with them.

If we’re going to be a winner in this global race we’ve got to beat off this suffocating bureaucracy once and for all. And then there are those who say “yes of course we need more housing” … but “no” to every development – and not in my backyard.

Indian Cities – the Bazaar City Model

After weeks of being driven around Indian as part of a project it strikes me how different Indian urbanisation is from other models.  Not here the concentric/concentrated centre model of cities in Europe and America before the car, or the Edge City American Model.  Indian Cities have very little centrality.  The kinds of goods you can buy in the first shop on the approach road into a city is very little different from the kind you can buy in its very centre.  Certainly in the centre of the very largest cities you can get some street where the same kind of shops cluster, building materials, lamps etc. on the Bazaar model but these shops can be found throughout the city as well.  The usual indicator of high order clothes is no guide as there are no real pedestrianised outdoor mall type streets and indoor malls are scattered everywhere.

Defining the centre of cities can be hard because shopping lined streets spread everywhere along main routes right out to the edge of the city.  Shops are primarily small, often tiny, with few national chains.  The only real marker of centrality is public administration buildings. There is limited clustering around train stations because (except in Mumbai) services are designed for inter-city travellers.  Some stations of suburbs and towns next to cities might only get a couple of trains services a day.  Hence commuting is by bicycle car (still to a limited extent) and tuc-tuc.  This breeds a pattern of urbanisation where activities are located within easy distance by these modes, a pattern of development along bazaar lined roads and gradual infilling behind.  The planned suburb and township is a relatively new phenomemenon.  Most development being of individual plots, many legalised post hoc and post land grab, and the occasional small  ‘colony’ a planned (though often not officially planned) government or private scheme, often by a company or employer.

With industrialisation still relatively low the need for major urbanisation around factories never arose and indeed you can see major new factories built on national highways with only limited new housing, if at all, as most of the workforce can be drawn from surrounding densely populated villages.

The Worst Jobs in Local Planning

St Albans and Basildon have recently advertised local plan managers.  Why should anyone sanely apply.  They are both examples of the breed especially redolent in Herts and Essex of LPAs they simply cannot produce new plans because Green Belt makes it too politically difficult.

St Albans has a local plan dating back to 1994, one of the oldest in the country, Basildon to 1998.  In you cant do a local plan after more more than four attempts over 25 years why expect them to alter their spots now.

The job would largely consist of recommending to members that evidence suggests the need to either build on the Green Belt of have to persuade some other authority to take the overspill.  Outraged members will then demand that new fixed ‘locally derived’ housing figures are produced.  The manager leaves and the whole saga repeats.