Planning – reading between the lines

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By Anne Henshaw
4th August 2020

The Housing Minister Robert Jenrick’s letter to The Telegraph on August 1st can only be met with incredulity.

Statements such as

“communities will be re-connected to a system which is supposed to serve them” and “residents are going to be engaged

ignore the fact that communities and residents do try to engage but when they oppose the system they are ignored. What system will allow the community voice to override the purely economic.

“We are cutting red tape, but not standards”. 

So, the question is what are these ‘standards’ that won’t be cut. And what ‘red tape’ will be cut?

“We are introducing a simpler, faster, people-focused system to deliver the homes and places we need.”

But what does that mean? People-focused? Who? Which people?

“It is easy to see why so many people are wary of development, when streets of identikit, “anywheresville” housing has become the norm.” 

So why would this change?

“This Government doesn’t want to just build houses.” 

We want a society that has re-established powerful links between identity and place, between our unmatchable architectural heritage and the future, between community and purpose.”

It seems we are going to get  new Baths and Belgravias.

The Local Government Association, not known as a radical body,  pointed out that the big builders already have a million permissions for unbuilt houses.

The LGA did not go on to explain that cornering the supply of land and then not building houses on it ensures that house prices stay high and the value of the banked land also increases. Mark Twain was right: you can’t go wrong buying land because they’re not making it any more.

It’s greedy of the builders to lobby for an even more permissive system when they have one that already works so well in their favour.  When you are already allowed to convert an office block into cardboard cells with no windows and call them homes, is the system really so handicapped by red tape?

A deregulation agenda has never been the answer to the question of how best to boost economic growth.

Our "unmatchable" architectural heritage ??
Two people searching for something against a cloudy blue sky