There was speculation in Planning this week that with the abolition of the DTC there could be a resurgence of County Council level plans. Certainly we have more unitaries. However lets not forget just how terrible many of the Structure Plans/County level plans were:
- Taking 20 or more years to prepare
- Dominated by rural interests they often dumped huge amounts of development in one corner of the county leading to huge sprawl – examples being Surry, Hampshire and Kent. In Kent the sprawl around Chatham was so great the M2 and HS1 had to bend around it.
- Not testing realistic alternatives
- Having policies that strangled all growth in most villages, even those with services (example Cornwall even to this day).
- Being at the forefront of arguing that housing numbers should be reduced
- In many authorities just being the awkward squad not making any attempt to structure DTC agreements and being the bully pulpit for arguments that housing numbers should be decreased (Kent is a good example where it has held up good planning around Maidstone for a generation).
- Being dominated by Highways and Schools departments who were only concerned about car access and which squeezed affordable housing S106s often to zero.
Of course practice varies and there are many examples now of more proactive good practice (such as Oxfordshire). But lets not fantasise about the past.