WaGCG : Wantage and Grove Campaign Group
Wantage and Grove Campaign Group (WaGCG)

Column 1st February 2023

Pathetic changes to Planning Policy

I’ve been struggling with the Government consultation on the changes to planning law and couldn’t work out why.

Then I read a blog on a website called ‘planoraks’ and it all made sense.

The key is Elections. Let me explain.

As Zack Simons points out in the blog, in the ‘heady’ days of 2012 the government had a vision for planning and the achievement of sustainable development.

This resulted in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) which was supposed to throw away all the old planning rules and regulations and bring in a new regime based on 57 pages of planning law based on ‘positive growth – making economic, environmental and social progress for this and future generations’ – Greg Clark (then Secretary of State for Planning).

Also in 2012 the Health and Social Care Act removed responsibility for the health of citizens from the Secretary of State for Health and look at the impact of that.

Back to planning – the Government has tinkered with the NPPF since 2012 and in August 2020 they published a white paper entitled ‘Planning for the Future’.

More than two years and 44,000 responses later, the consultation has finally been officially axed and we now have a new consultation.

The blog suggests that the new ‘program of reform’ is pathetic. “Aka “stirring pity and sadness.”

It goes on to say ‘It reminds me of the worst thing my dad could ever say to my brother and me: “I’m not angry. I’m just disappointed”.’

The Blog summarises the proposals as ‘The paucity of its ambition. Sure, some of its ideas are pernicious. Others will be ineffective. But most of all, the ideas are all just so very small.’

I have to agree – I know that I spend most of my life arguing with planners and politicians about what is sustainable and improves our lives and trying to find a compromise. But this is just electioneering.

It's avoiding anything which will turn off anyone thinking about voting for the party currently in power.

My experience is that since 2010, planning law has been written for politicians who can’t afford to upset those in the construction industry (who fund political parties) but these changes are just throwing crumbs to the voters and disgruntled MPs.

The changes are supposed to contribute to ‘the provision of homes and other forms of development, including supporting infrastructure in a sustainable manner’ but still don’t define sustainable or how this will be achieved.

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