The latest attempt to ‘simplify’ planning is to publish a new and more complex than ever 163 page GPDO, which will have two major effects, firstly to make a great deal of money to those with assets that can now be valorised, secondly to ensure that local planning authorities make a great deal less money from fees. Surely something is going wrong somewhere? That got me thinking, how much is the new GPDO worth, and could we capture it to fund the service of planning?
A radical thought experiment. We abolished all PD rights and all local plans, You could build nothing. If you wanted to build something you have to buy development rights. If you wanted to stop something being built then you pay a higher price to buy out those rights. Seen in this way planning would have no shortage of funding, and the pockets of Nimbys would be nowhere near deep enough to buy put all rights for housing as consumers consider the extra price they would pay over their lifetime for not bidding higher than Nimbys. I am not suggesting for a moment that this would be practical, or that it would be desirable with an unequal distribution of wealth where the wealthy would simply entrench their position where they block out housing and entrench their rentier status. But it does frame the problem in the correct way. If wealth were equally distributed what would be the shadow price that people would pay to protect or allow for development and where? What kind of regulation would emerge? What kind of planning would the consumers of ‘planning services’ to use the economists application of the term ‘services’ demand?
Thinking this way you cant help think that the GPDO and much planning regulation is just an entrenchment of power and privilege and an institutionalization of rentier income.