What if they Don’t Want to Plan?

It is a depressing time. No-one is really preparing local plans with enthusiasm and speed.

Why should they when so many ambitious planning efforts have so spectacularly failed.

I pity chief planners making recommendations on what to do on their local plan reviews.

Most councillor’s of course see plan making as nothing but a lose-lose situation.

The idea of the NPPF was that the consequences of ‘build what you like where you like’ would be so painful lpas would get on with plan making.

But most found it easier simply to blaim government for losses of planning by appeal. And if you were a Green Belt authority there was no pressure whatsoever.

Hence local plan making and adoption contines to slow to a crawl.

What are the reasons for this? None of which were anlaysed in the planning white paper.

  • The first is a systematic shortfall in OAN targets. This will get worse in the latest national housing need system which effectively plnns for a capped shortfall for at least the next five years.
  • The second is the complete lack of a system for redistributing overspill of OAN from land and environmentall constrained areas.
  • The third has been the failure of joing plan making efforts.
  • The fourth has been the structural inability of plans to deal with large scale long term startegic sites and the failure of the goverment to support them with infrastructure and land assembly at existing use values.
  • The fifth has been the lack of political courage of so many athorities to plan given electoral threats of the Advocado Nimby alliances of Green Lib Dems and anto development indpendents.
  • The sixth has been in the light of political threats smoke filled room processes to decide preferred options and a lack of transparent inquiry into realistic strategic options. Combined with a gap in skills of local planners in preparing strategic plans.
  • The seventh is the weak demand in some parts of the North for large scale and high density sites.
  • The eigth is the unwillingness of many developers to release for development consented sites whilst land values appreciate.
  • The ninth is the deliberate slow rate of development of many housebuilders to build above the local ‘absorbtion rate’.
  • The tenth is the lack of funding for the proportion of local housing need that is affordable.

I think this is a pretty comprehensive list.

However even if all of the national and development sector constraints were removed you still have the problem in the middle. The unwillingness to plan.

I see two options:

The first would be to set a statutory timescale for planning whereby if you didnt have new plans in place old plans would expire. Green Belt and al. The put the fire up them approach. That would work.

The second would be to take the heat off by having independent commissions, on which local planners would sit, producing plan options. With local politicians voting on the one to go to examination.

I note that many areas with zoning, where of course if you don’t agree zoning you have no control, work of the basis if indepedent planning commissions making recommendations.

Of course you could have both running together.

4 thoughts on “What if they Don’t Want to Plan?

  1. Interesting thought about about reverting to the old plan if you do nothing. However, for those who never had a plan in the first place, or one that was totally built out, it would make little sense. Some developers might wish to spend time wading through a treacle like planning dept where the eventual returns are high. However, for those in marginal areas, but where housing need sits with a low wage population , it could be a recipe for another lost generation of desperate and forgotten social /private tenants. Living in substandard anything will do over crowded ghettos. We’re already building those thanks to government policy and Homes England. This enthusiastically assisted by a seemingly shrinking group of RSLs who grow larger in size by absorbing their smaller rivals, councils sit on the sidelines watching all the social housing funds being pocketed by these monsters via RTB whilst their property portfolios fall into greater and greater disrepair.. have they heard of decent home’s standard? RSLs add insult to injury by parachuting all manner of non locals into areas of vacancy to ensure they meet their quotas whilst ignoring the potential fir disruption to that community by the import of a group of inner city teens to a rural location with little or no facilities abs certainly no ‘entertainments’ of the type they were used to. Needless to say chaos ensues, but that’s not the RSLs problem, the police and and local council will have to sort it.
    Regional planning needs to be reimposed if needs be. England needs a spatial plan and I’m sorry to say, somewhat like democracy itself, politicians no longer seem to have the backbone or guts to do the right thing fir the country.

  2. St Albans!!!

    Steve Taylor St Congar Land

    Tel: 020 3872 3870 Mobile: 07854 718551 Email: steve@stcongar.com http://www.stcongar.com

    93 – 95 Gloucester Place, London, W1U 6JQ

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  3. Pingback: What is the Planning Gap how how to Fix it? | Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

  4. Pingback: Castle Point Council misleads Residents as “risks of any real Government intervention in local plans therefore seem very low”! Meanwhile the Borough’s Green Belt faces destruction for the Benefit of the Few? | Canvey Green Belt Campaign

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