A Permanently Smaller State Means Permanently Less Planning

In David Cameron’s Lord Mayors Speech he talked of

‘building a leaner, more efficient state. We need to do more with less. Not just now, but permanently.’

For some this appeared a shock as if austerity was just temporary for hard times.  But liberals such as Osborne have been talking about this for years. Indeed logically if you want to extent austerity to run a government surplus over another 10 years then you have to see a small state as an intrinsically good thing.  This is the neoliberal project, not wasting a crisis by using austerity to create a smaller state.

So expect another 10 years with fewer planner.  Expect permanent planning reform with more and more permitted development and fewer and fewer restrictions on the presumption in favour of development, less and less resources on local plans, and more and more favours to development when plans inevitably become out of date.

Indeed Boles as a died in the wool neoliberal says very little in terms of complaints of plans being late.  He believes that development even without plans is a good thing.  So plans simply get in the way.  If plans get bogged down then the system of local planning becomes discredited.  This is part of the project easing the way for future reforms to either reduce the power of plans, abolish them or hand them over to privatised interests.

4 thoughts on “A Permanently Smaller State Means Permanently Less Planning

  1. I think the issue is the type of freedom of action there is within a plan. It’s not impossible that the Tory instincts for more freedom, within a framework, is justified.

    I think Planning is a phenomenon borne out of the awareness that commercial forces have become so powerful, they’re able to transform and produce settlements very quickly. It’s the scale of commercial power – built off mass production and mass marketing – makes Planning necessary. The South East could have been quickly transformed into continuous metro-land type suburb postwar without it (and the Tube).

    But Planning is poor at detail. Suburban back gardens some place like Upminster form a hugely long monotonous fence separating houses from farmland. It’s immensely crude – a sign of territories that have nothing to say to each other. Such indifference is an effect of the vast scale of urban production.

    Greater freedom of action, in a context where the materials for construction and placemaking are highly degraded, doesn’t promise improvement. It promises a great big mess.

    But I wonder if we have endure a much greater mess in order to regain a wider general understanding of making places. An ‘orrible mess might well result from additions to PDOs but might that not be part of an evolution away from a top-down idea of making our settlements ?

  2. I am of the opinion that the situation with no local plans and in some cases no 5 year land supply is one that the Conservatives have deliberately chosen for a developer free for all. The implementation of the NPPF could have been delayed for a year which would have allowed most councils to get their plans in place. Given a choice, which they had, I believe they went into it with their eyes wide open and with developer enthusiastic manipulation.

  3. sidmouthsid – I’m not sure I agree. The majority of LPA’s with no 5YHLS that are hitting the headlines lately are torie controlled. Mr Cameron certainly isn’t making himself very popular in these shire’s and it may well cost him at the next election (not that labour is likely to offer any major alternative!).

  4. I think the Tories believe(d) that more house building equalled more votes and were unable to see further than that. So few at the top have ever wanted to or needed to understand planning and thought that abandoning it to the market would be the solution to all their housing problems.

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