There was more. “House building on green belts will also be allowed where there is already some development - such as a train station. The jumbo package has been drawn up by Chancellor Sajid Javid and Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick. They will begin to unveil it at the Tories’ annual conference in Manchester, which starts tomorrow”. Love the idea of a wayside railway station being classed as “development”.
Now, the Saj has departed the cabinet, thanks to the machinations of chief Downing Street polecat Dominic Cummings, but Jenrick is still there, showing us just what the new planning landscape looked like when he just happened to find himself sitting next to Richard “Dirty” Desmond at a fundraiser, just happened to let Des show him a video of the proposed Westferry Printworks redevelopment, and later just happened to approve it.
And now the alarm bells are being sounded as those with some knowledge of the planning process figure out what Bob and Bozo are up to, with Caroline Lucas penning an op-ed for free sheet Metro earlier this week where she told readers “When Housing Minister Robert Jenrick wrote in the Sunday Telegraph about his intent to transform planning laws, he evoked cities and districts like Bath, Belgravia and Bournville in his vision for the future”.
The nuances of Tory planning law are explained
However, “what he is proposing is a bonfire of planning laws, which will offer a free-for-all for the Tory Party’s chums in the property industry to build where and what they want, with local communities powerless to stop them. Under the Tories’ reforms, land will be designated under three categories: for growth, protection, or renewal. New homes will be given automatic approval on land designated for the latter”. No questions asked.
To show that Ms Lucas is not alone in her concerns, Laurie Macfarlane, of Open Democracy and UCL, notes that “Under the current system there are two opportunities for democratic participation in the planning system: first, at the formation of a local plan which sets out the strategic priorities for development in an area; and then at the planning application stage of individual developments”. But one of these is about to go.
“Under the proposed reforms, the second stage of consultation will be scrapped. As a result, only those with psychic powers to foresee future developments will be able to object to them at the initial plan-making stage. Democratic oversight of individual developments will soon be a thing of the past … This is, of course, intentional”. And the result?
“The reforms serve to transfer power away from local elected representatives and towards private developers, who will be able to build whatever they like, unopposed. The significance of this should not be underestimated. From now on, our built environment will be shaped around the interests of shareholder value, unchecked by democratic accountability”. That’s who benefits. The Tories’ pals. Like Dirty Des.
More unchecked building. And more unchecked corruption. No change there, then.
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