This post was originally written to be a response to the comment on the second “Soggy Bottom” objection, post and comment can be read here. I have published separately as I believe there are many salient points about the current governments planning mess. – Editor.

Where do I start to deal with Michael’s blunderbuss discharge of issues?

I rejected the simple strategy of starting at the beginning and then going on to the end. There were so many issues raised that to deal with all of them would be a lengthy business and some of the points raised were more important than others.

Since Michael was responding to the branch objection to the proposed building on ‘Soggy Bottom’ I will confine myself to replying to comments on housing and some of its ramifications, and then briefly with one other matter.

Michael appears to make two points. Firstly, anyone opposed to building houses on ‘Soggy Bottom’ or any other ‘posh’ area was a Nimby. Secondly he appears to suggest that since there is a housing crisis we should simply accept whatever is thrown at us and be grateful for small mercies.

Taking the second point first, we agree – there is a housing crisis. But the Tory National Planning Policy Framework 2012 legislation and the house building proposals flowing from it were never intended to resolve that developing crisis. It was at least in part pay-back time for big building companies for their generous donations to the Tory Party in the run up to the 2010 election.

It is becoming clear that if things remain as they are, then large numbers of people will never own their own home, and hundreds of thousands of young people in particular will continue paying exorbitant rents for a roof over their heads. It is increasingly commonplace for people in their twenties and thirties to rely on parents and grandparents for help with their housing.

In this ward the prices of new houses completed last year in Adel started at about £500,000! I might be tempted to say, ‘That says it all’, but it doesn’t. The devil, as they say is in the detail, and so is the politics.

That is why a study of the housing issue reaps dividends. In my opinion what all local community groups including parish councils, the local Labour Party and others have unearthed points to a dysfunctional and hollowed out planning system.

It is a planning system heavily weighted in favour of developers. The system will have to be changed and changed sooner rather than later. The present legislation ensures that builders win most of the time and councils and communities lose most of the time.

It is telling that none of the applications to build houses in this ward made any assessment of, or reference to, the housing needs of the people of Leeds or of Cookridge, Pool, Adel or Bramhope. Building companies do not give a jot about your children or grandchildren or anyone else’s. They are there to make money and that is all.

The 2012 legislation trashed regulations which had previously prevented building on many green field and green belt sites and reduced almost to zero the ability of local councils and communities to stop unwanted developments. Less well known is that it also ended the build on brown field sites first system!

That is why the local Labour Party and others have spent so much time and effort on this issue.

Michael says Washington was built in a swamp so our flooding problems can easily be solved. I’ll let some-one else answer that bit of piffle.

The many who have worked hard, raised funds, researched aspects of planning law, insurance, building regulations, then tramped through wet and muddy fields taking all kinds of readings in all weathers were ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

They deserve our respect. They have mine.

Geoff
Fawcett

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One thought on “National Planning Mess

  1. Having been poorly, never saw this bit of cheek from Geoff. Piffle? Who? Me sir, no not me sir. I stick by my claim that Nimby attitudes one of the roots of the UK housing problems. Why make a fuss about water-logging? If GF is right, it’ll be an expensive (and labour-intensive problem – good – for Wimpy). Seems to me we need a new definition of Green Spaces, Green Belt et cetera. I propose: ‘The agreeable view from my windows.’

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