We do not need an other planning quango

Today we debate how to get more planning permission through our aged, creaking and unpopular system of planning. The government wrongly thinks that injecting yet another quango into the process, stuffed full of so-called independent experts carefully chosen by Labour Ministers, will do the job. The more their backbenchers disagree, the more the government makes their proposals more complicated, substituting Ministerial decision for quango decision to an increasing extent.

What we need is a rethink. We have to ask ourselves why is housebuilding and the construction of major facilities are so unpopular, and if we can do anything about it.

The main reason most people are NIMBYs – and why many MPs have to be the Chief Nimby in their area – is simple. Large projects and new housing estates do not bring the individuals most affected by them any benefits, but they bring them more traffic congestion, more noise, less amenity and a worse view. No amount of Section 106 money – the bribe to the council to give permission by the developer – can offset this, as it is not money passing to the person who is inconvenienced or loses house value. Indeed, councils often make it an even more unpopular development by spending some of the Section 106 money on a Children’s playground which is captured by feral youths in the evening and plonks that down by the houses affected by the new development!

Any system which wishes to make people more enthusiastic about new development has to transfer some of the planning gain windfall to the householders affected by way of compensation. We need to develop systems to reward long suffering householders, who otherwise will carry on opposing everything because there is nothing in it for them. On the odd occasion when a developer has offered neighbours compensation in my area there has been much less opposition to the planning application.

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  1. Kit
    June 25, 2008

    The planning authorities need to be transformed into a mediator service – only if needed. Their role would be to help negotiate between developer and affected households over the level of compensation.
    Compulsory purchasing homes should be abolished – if a plot of land is worth £1m to a developer that is the price he should pay to the owner not some arbitrary rate set by the planning department.

  2. adam
    June 25, 2008

    we shouldnt have quangos, full stop.

    Not until politicians are prepared to talk about destroying the nation state and democracy openly and run for election on that platform.

    But silly me for thinking that my elected politicians should be anything other than used car salesmen
    for Maurice Strong's fantasies.

  3. Neil Craig
    June 25, 2008

    The hidden reason people have a knee jerk reaction against any new homes near them is that the increased supply means downward pressure on the price of their houses. I am afraid that that is inescapable. It is the same reason Asda will join with smaller shopkeepers in opposing planning applications by Sainsbury's & vice versa. Where the government is expected to engage in protectionism it is normally a sign the government is already interfering too much.

  4. mikestallard
    June 25, 2008

    Subtle changes round here. People stare at you as you walk past instead of saying "Hello". Cars drive along the road at 50 m.p.h. Potatoes and stones are mysteriously thrown at your windows in the evenings. You don't know anyone by their face or name. Trees get cut down by the Council. Notices appear banning dog messing. Rough bits of grass suddenly sprout houses. Lots and lots of London accents.

    This was, even 5 years ago, a rural community with two pubs, a working Church, Church hall and resident Vicar. Everyone knew everyone else by sight.

    But, of course, there are the New Eco Towns and, in the vague distance, new power stations to put in place, aren't there. Hence the quango?

    Some blue sky thinking: Our problem is that we live in the South. In the North, vast tracts of empty property lie vacant. If only there were decent communications with the North, pretty soon some bright sparks might start to move up there…….

  5. Adrian Peirson
    June 26, 2008

    This is to turn Planning over to Private Consortiums, we are back to the Global Elites takeover of Britain / Europe / The World a corporate Coup d etad.

    Our Parliament is a charade, the Real Power is in the Shadows.

  6. bill Quango mp
    June 26, 2008

    We do not need an other planning quango?

    Let me think about that for a bit?
    Hmmm.. who likes Quangos? .. Hmmm its a toughie.

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