The legacy of Eric Pickles and his Conservative supporters across the country, have left this country with both the current housing shortage and a belief that Nimbies can win the day with the right MPs on their team.
Soft planning is a new style of planning, nothing to do with its statutory status or otherwise. We have non statutory strategic plans in places like Leicestershire and Surrey and emerging statutory plans with a ‘soft’ stage in places like Oxfordshire., Northamptonshire (next month) and Greater Exteter. What all of these have in common is absolutely no sharp edges of housing numbers assigned to locations which might hurt a Nimby or upset a local politician. They are easy to agree as there is no need to set up a structure to make hard choices that cannot be agreed through unanimity. If you get housing numbers at all it is in an appendix stating need as a fact with a comment that this does not imply distribution. You might get a diagram showing growth locations, but only in the non statutory forms to get around SEA requirements.
Are they useful. Certainly…
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