• Development Intelligence

Planning White Paper – The planning reform madness loop

Image taken from Planning White Paper

We’ve been here before. So many times. It’s like planning reform groundhog day. Forgive the DI team’s eye rolling but we’ve watched the planning reform madness loop so often, we know all the lines. Here how it goes:

  • Step 1 – Everyone moans on and on that the planning system is not working.

  • Step 2 – A new government arrives in office with an agenda to build lots of stuff (homes, nuclear power stations, green stuff etc).

  • Step 3 – A bright young ‘think tanker’ from Policy Exchange (Tory) or Demos/IPPR (Labour) – who by the way has never ever worked on a single planning application in their life, either as an applicant or as a local authority officer/councillor – always knows best how to solve the problem (remember the 2011 Localism Act’s firebrand Alex Morton, just like the current incumbent, Jack Airey, both ex Policy Exchange then Number 10 Policy Unit).

  • Step 4 – A small ‘industry representative expert group’ is recruited and given ‘free rein’ to ‘think the unthinkable’; as long as their ‘free rein’ in line with the new No 10 Policy Unit think tanker’s dreams, obvs.

  • Step 5 – A fancy set of proposals are created – some good, some bad, some just mad – and, once consulted on, are enshrined into law. From the despatch box, the annual planning minister (for they usually last around a year these days) calls this “an historic moment finally delivering a faster, more transparent and fairer system”. It never is.

  • Step 6 – Years of missed targets, delays, reset deadlines go by with no perceptible change.

  • Step 7 – Revert to the beginning of the madness loop and repeat. Ad infinitum…