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Inside Out - Stand up to planning bullies

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My planners are upset. They think they’ve done a good job over the years yet now they are being blamed for holding back economic recovery.

I held an ‘all planners’ staff meeting last week. I thought I would hear the usual Pickles/changing light bulbs jokes, but all I got was concern about the National Planning Policy Framework.

I’ve accused planners of many things, but never wrecking the global economy

The nice Greg Clark is leading this with heavy artillery support from ex-nimbys Eric Pickles and George Osborne. They argue that deregulation of the planning process will release economic development and house building and save the country £3bn a year.

I’ve accused planners of many things, but never wrecking the global economy.

My planners spelled out why deregulation is mistaken. First, most planning applications get through. Second, their performance in processing applications has improved. We measure them all the time and they’ve speeded up and improved the quality of decision making year on year.

Most importantly they pointed out that planning policy reflects how we want our neighbourhoods to look. It improves the environment and infrastructure by influencing investment and development. The policy and the planning committee are there to ensure public good comes from private investment and profit. Deregulation of planning will hamper this.

Big planning applications about major schemes take time and cost developers money. Why shouldn’t they? Most developers I deal with don’t mind the cost as it’s small compared with the size of developments. They have pride in their schemes and want to get them right; they value the certainty good planning policy brings.

Developers already have ‘land banks’ of sites with planning permission for homes and commercial premises. They’ll put spades into the ground when they’re confident people will buy what they build.

My planners are clear. This is a policy of prejudice against local government yet again. Greg, stand up to the bullies or you will repent at leisure.

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The one thing he won’t comment on is his identity…

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Roger

    Agree with everything your planners are telling you, but don't really understand your closing comment re Greg Clark - he is one of the bullies and local government, along with the NT, CPRE and EH, is one of his victims!

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