At last we hoped we might get a new SoS to replace Big Eric, one focussed on solving the housing crisis rather than obsessing about flags, crown green bowls and teaching people how to cook curry. One from a constituency that doesn’t have the highest proportion of Green Belt countryside in the country and so wouldnt simply spread sprawl everywhere else. But arrrgh we get Greg Clarke. How now are senior civil servants to explain to the architect of the NPPf what a total omnishambles it has been with local plans falling ever further out of date, fewer and fewer big sites being allocated and the necessary hard decisions about where to house the 2 million plus overspill from our big cities being kicked ever further into the long grass, with housebuilders racking up permissions and drip feeding completions. Every prediction that Greg Clarke made about what impact the NPPF would have has been proven untrue, just read his parliamentary speeches.
Greg Clark is a proponent of a hippy dippy view of politics. Where if everyone just loved each other and was nice that every problem in the world would be solved. His Polyannesque view was that localism would solve everything and local would simply want to allocate more. His naivety about the realities of countryside wars led Gus O Donnell counting the NPPF development as one of the three greatest policy development failures in his lifetime. One can imagine his approach to Garden Cities ‘ oh please please locally lead on a Garden city’ ‘No’ ‘ Oh please please be nice, have a cup of tea’ ‘No let Boris build it’ ‘But we are only building half the houses in London we need, please please please, how about a few thousand’ “but minister we need Garden Cities of 100,000s in size to meet the 2 million shortfall’ ‘Ok how can we ne really nice to people to get them to say yes, a few quid for their parks and schools say’ ‘These local politicians need to get elected minister’ ‘Oh im sure a charm offensive will do wonders, invite them in for a confab on my sofa’
So at least 2 years I guess of total non progress on planning till we get a fresh face who can be detached and objective about what needs to be done.