Sunday, 5 December 2010

"Local lynch mobs to get planning powers"

Over at the BBC

Groups of householders will be allowed to apply to be recognised as "neighbourhoods", covering a group of streets or larger areas. There would be a presumption that local authorities will approve the status. Neighbourhoods could then prepare "neighbourhood plans" which would be put to referendums. If approved, their plans would then have to be accepted by the council."

How's that going to work? What if there are two such groups in the same geographic area - who decides which group is entitled to draw up the "neighbourhood plan"? Whatever system they invent is going to lead to the planning system grinding to a halt - which I suppose is the whole intention.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

In a completely perverse way that might not be such a bad thing...

Sobers said...

And presumably will launch a thousand long running feuds when someone falls out with the chairman of the local planning group and is refused planning permission for something or other. I see endless potential for petty point scoring, court cases, etc etc.

Local planning authorities are undoubtedly inefficient, but at least they do on the whole adhere to the law. I foresee this being a utter nightmare. You will find cases where in one street person X is allowed to do Y, but in the next street person Z is refused the very same thing because they've fallen out with the local busybodies (who will inevitably be the most likely people who have the time and energy to get themselves elected onto such bodies).

Bayard said...

"I see endless potential for petty point scoring, court cases, etc etc."

The lawyers must be rubbing their hands with glee. Perhaps it was them wot instigated it in the first place.

Joseph Takagi said...

Sobers,

Pretty much what I was going to say.

I have very few problems with town planners. They can get bees in their bonnets about minor details (like architectural consistency) but they pretty much follow the principles of Good Planning.

Anonymous said...

"I have very few problems with town planners. They can get bees in their bonnets about minor details (like architectural consistency) but they pretty much follow the principles of Good Planning"

Town planners protecting their vested interests???

Joseph Takagi said...

Anonymous,

No, not really. Having planning is, at its simplest, a good thing for a functioning society.

I divide planning into 2 things: Good Planning and Bad Planning.

Good Planning is about protecting people's rights. It's about having light, access to your property, that sort of thing.

This is different from Bad Planning which is about protecting privileges that people feel they are entitled to, but which they have never paid for, like the right to a view of some fields.

Mark Wadsworth said...

Agreed to all of the above comments (except the first Anon). In a few minutes, you have highlighted a long list of of the Unintended Consequences (there will be many more, of course) which apparently are beyond the imagination of the Lib-Cons.

James Higham said...

Welcome, Common Purpose.

adamcollyer said...

No, the intention is apparently to reduce planning red tape. Ahem. Not one of Mr Pickle's finest wheezes, I fear...

Mark Wadsworth said...

JH, it's Them.

AC, this will indeed cut red tape to an absolute minimum. All applications for planning permission or change of use will be rejected out of hand with no right of appeal. Job done.

Bayard said...

Mark, as Anon says, in a perverse way this might be a good thing. By taking the bad aspects of our current planning system to their logical conclusion - no development anywhere- it might initiate reform. Give the NIMBYs enough rope...

Mark Wadsworth said...

B, if one day there are middle aged homeowners in front of the Town Hall carrying banners saying "More housing now! Our children can't afford to get married and start a family!", then I'll believe it. I doubt they ever will, frankly.

Sobers said...

One thing I know for sure, it will personalise planning applications. I have personal knowledge of this - quite often when applying for planning the planners receive comments against that include personal abuse/potentially libellous statements. Fortunately the planners are usually professional enough to ignore such obvious non-relevant information, and deal with the application based on the law.

If small, local based, non-professional committees are given the power to say yes or no to planning applications, you can bet your bottom dollar decisions will be made on personal grounds. Those on the committee will know the applicants personally and personal bias will come into play - 'He doesn't need planning for that, he's had 2 applications granted already this year', or 'He's got loads of money, I'm not giving him planning to make even more' etc etc. And the other way too of course - 'He's a good bloke, I play golf with him, lets give him permission', or 'His son's married to my daughter, put this one through on the nod'

I reckon its one of two things - either this is a window dressing policy, and these committees will have little or no true power to decide, rather like parish councils now. In which case nothing much will change. Or they will have real powers, in which case the system will descend into a Kafka-esque nightmare of nepotism, personal feuds, and legal battles.