Planning the Future
Following the recent government announcements on planning Paul
Bedford takes a look at how they may effect future housing
The government’s new planning proposals have had a rough
ride over the past few months - and rightly so. Early drafts were
not promising and they threatened disjointed, short sighted and
self-serving policies that may have put decisions in the hands of
disjointed organisations, short sighted people and self-serving
But all is not yet crystal clear. The phrase ‘sustainable
development’ seems to have caused confusion in many,
including some of the politicians and planners themselves. If it
means we will now build homes that people will be proud of in fifty
years then that sounds like good sustainability. But if it means
homes of which we will be so ashamed we will tear them down in
several decades – as we have with so many from the 1960s -
then that, patently, is unsustainable development.
The final draft however has been met with guarded and grudging
approval – even from bodies such as the National Trust and
Friends of the Earth.
The policy of Brownfield first must be right. To make use of
urban regeneration while protecting our countryside wherever and
whenever possible still provides enormous opportunities for much
needed house building.
Where rural development is considered let us hope that planners
are mindful of their duty to our heritage. It is our children who
will have to live with their decisions, as we have had to live with
many poor decisions made by their predecessors. Bringing new life
into rural communities is important and modern technologies like
broadband can attract people who will live and work in a community
and not just sleep in it.
The government wants to concentrate more on reviving our
flagging town centres and less on out of town retail parks. They
could be too late for that. The public may have moved on a step or
two further than government thinking - as is sometimes the case. So
an enlightened vision on how we could bring mixed use to struggling
town centres, including residential development, may be a way to
But whatever the future brings at least we now have a planning
policy that, broadly speaking, people can get behind and which will
enable planners to get planning and builders to get building. All
we need now are the mortgages to help buy what is built. But the
government didn’t mention anything about that . . .