It was difficult to read the runes of the Times story over the weekend. Ministers had already signalled in parliament an end to the rip it up and start again approach, signalling pragmatism. As long advocated here even to the extent of publishing s draft planning act to show how it could be done.
There was a contradiction though between the headline suggesting scrapping of whole reform agenda, and text which only suggested scrapping of idea of a comprehensive zoning system replacing everything. Which was never needed as nowhere in Europe has such a system and the last thing you want to do is ape the legal basis of America n zoning. The times story however was unclear. Would growth sites have ‘as of right’ permission in principle or just another presumption, which would be meaningless. How many presumptions do we need for housing 4 5 10? The FT story today gives more clues. Its all about making Bob Seeley and the housing hosting nimby what’s app group think they have won. When in fact they have been cleverly outflanked.
Jenrick also signalled that the government had heeded criticisms of its reforms to the planning system, which seeks to liberalise laws and make it easier to build. The changes are opposed by a significant number of Conservative MPs representing seats in the south of England.
“We’ve spent the best part of a year listening to members of parliament, councils, members of the public and I think we will bring forward a set of proposals which are sensible, pragmatic improvements to the current planning system, which all reasonable people will be able to get behind.”
On Saturday, the Times reported that plans to rip up the planning application process and replace them with a zonal system would be dropped. One MCHLG insider said: “We’ve had a huge period of engagement and we do understand people have concerns” but declined to comment on whether “growth sites” for development with automatic planning permission would be introduced.
The NI vote has shown that there is unlikely to be a major rebellion. And as an EVEL would require pretty much every whats app Nimby MP to rebel – unthinkable. Prgamtic planning reform is going ahead. The real test though is hether it makes sensible proposals for simplification of planning law and strategic planning.