It’s called throwing the baby out with the bath water

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I can’t believe that these councillors can be so naïve as to think they would gain support from the planning puppet master, Nick Boles. How can they not realise that the Planning Inspectorate (PINS) is simply doing what it is told by DCLG and it’s current incumbents, Eric Pickles and the hyperactive Nick Boles? They in turn, are of course under the thumb of George Osborne, who seems to believe that building hundreds of thousands of houses,min a short space of time, will be the saviour of the UK economy.
If you want to improve things in planning terms, don’t throw out what’s been proven to work over many years, instead, get rid of the ‘external elements’ that are undermining it.

PINS fulfils a vital role, by addressing the sometimes aberrant behaviour of some planning departments and their associated planning committees. How else would an applicant, with a perfectly reasonable planning proposal, gain redress against a council that had refused that application, despite it being in compliance with both local and national planning policies?

Until you can be sure that elected members will always behave in a totally professional and unbiased manner, when considering an application and that planning officers will get it right every time, PINS will continue to be an essential element of the planning system.

Copied from Local Government Chronicle online
Leader urges Planning Inspectorate abolition
12 March, 2014 | By Mark Smulian

A council leader has called for abolition of the Planning Inspectorate after being sent a “bitterly disappointing” letter by planning minister Nick Boles.

A delegation of North Devon DC councillors (pictured) led by local MP Sir Nick Harvey (Lib Dem) handed in a letter at 10 Downing Street and met Mr Boles to highlight problems created by government planning policy on their community.

Council leader Brian Greenslade (Lib Dem) said that while the minister had been encouraging when they met his follow-up letter was short, unhelpful and evasive.

“I think he was got at by civil servants after our meeting,” Cllr Greenslade said.

The council delegation, led by local MP Sir Nick Harvey (Lib Dem), raised concerns about the refusal of planning inspectors to count inactive sites with planning permission towards councils’ required five-year land supply for housebuilding, and inspectors’ habit of substituting their own decisions for those of councils.

North Devon also objected to proposals to deprive councils of the New Homes Bonus where planning permission is given only after an appeal to inspectors.

“We were all bitterly disappointed with the short response from the planning minister, who avoided all of our main points, despite making positive comments to our councillors at the time of the meeting,” Cllr Greenslade said.

He added: “We believe that the localism agenda and the restoration of democracy to planning will be greatly enhanced if Mr Pickles were to follow the example he set when he scrapped the Audit Commission by also scrapping the Planning Inspectorate.

“I understand this is a course of action favoured by a number of Conservative MPs.”

Tear up all planning policies, then blame councils for the lack!

The government are looking at how to introduce a transition period to give councils time to produce a local plan, but they are resisting any attempt to introduce a reasonable time period for doing so. One excuse given by one of their tame peers, is that councils have had 8 years to produce plans, but the majority still haven’t, so why give them any more time now?

This reasoning, which is actually no reasoning at all, but simply a smoke-screen for wanting to get their own way as soon as possible, ignores the fact that the whole process of plan making is extremely complicated and highly expensive. It also ignores the fact that, until recently, councils could use the default position of using the national policies detailed in planning policy guidance and statements. Unless there was pressing need, such as special local circumstances, why would a council spend large amounts of their taxpayers money producing a local plan?

Successive governments have lulled councils in to what now appears to be a false sense of security, by burying them under multiple layers of planning policy and guidance, for the last 60+ years. Now the current government is throwing all that policy in the bin and then blaming councils for not having any of their own policies. Just to add insult to injury, the government has now produced the sloppily worded NPPF, as a replacement for all that planning policy, with a statement in it designed to ‘punish’ councils that don’t have their own policies; where a plan is silent, indeterminate or out of date, planning permission should be given without delay.

The double whammy of no plan and no time to produce one, is potentially as damaging as the presumption in favour statement that we are all getting so hot and bothered about. I hope as much effort is put into getting a sensible timescale put in place, as has been expended to date, in exposing the NPPF as a flawed document.

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