Nick Boles is from Venus, everybody else is from Mars

Below is a perfect example of how those in charge of our planning system, are speaking a totally different language from those raising major concerns about the impact recent changes to the system are having.

It’s not even a case of one speaking English and the other French, at least there’s half a chance of getting some understanding when you’re both from the same planet. Unfortunately, when it comes to the planning system, government ministers are from Mars and the objectors are from Venus. Indeed, some objectors might wish to suggest that ministers are (talking) from Uranus.

Anna Soubry, a Conservative health minister, wrote to Eric Pickles saying:

“planning inspectors are forcing local councils to accept more housing and build on Green Belt.”

“Notwithstanding the localism agenda, the National Planning Policy Framework, the abolition of the RSS [regional spatial strategies] and the repeated assurances of your good self and the Prime Minister”…………….. “local authorities like Rushcliffe and my own are unable to determine their own housing needs, set their own targets and protect their Green Belt land from development, ” she wrote to Mr Pickles.

Nick Boles, Eric Pickles junior minister for Planning replied:

Local councils are in control of their Green Belt boundaries, through local plans, which this Government put at the heart of the planning system to allow communities to deliver the right development for their local area.”

The key phrases here are “…unable to determine their own housing need…”, from Anna Soubry, compared to, “…to deliver the right development..”, from Nick Boles.

The clear lack of comprehension, let alone understanding, is that one wishes to reduce or even prevent development, whilst the other is saying, you can control where and what, but not if, or when. PINS understand this, but are currently being made the villains of the piece. All I can say is, don’t shoot the messenger.

More changes to the planning system

Released under the relatively innocuous title, ‘Next steps to improve the planning system and support sustainable development’, there are some potential time bombs for those of us in rural areas. Reuse of agricultural buildings, “without the need for planning permission”. I wonder what horror stories that will produce for us to end up enforcing against?

The measures include:

Making it easier to re-use existing agricultural, retail and commercial buildings, such as offices and warehouses, without the need to submit a planning application, supporting small business growth.

A consultation is being published on changes to the Use Classes Order, which determines the flexibility with which such buildings can be re-used.

The consultation also proposes allowing so called ‘meanwhile’ or temporary uses of certain buildings to open up premises to new businesses and to bring redundant buildings back into use, in line with recommendations in the Portas Review.

An increase in the planning fees is welcome, as the service has always been subsidised by the general,fund i.e. all of the district’s taxpayers. However, will any of the increase in fees actually reach the service itself, or will it all end up in the corporate coffers?