Thursday, February 27, 2014

Permission Impossible

Just a brief word about the programme on BBC2 about the planning system.  The law did not change with the publication of the National Planning Policy Framework. This was a compression or distillation of national planning guidance and was not intended to change very much if anything.  The exception was the introduction of a presumption in favour of sustainable development.

One would have thought, as this was the most important change (and a 'presumption' does raise some interesting legal questions in the balancing exercise through which decisions are made.  It could be argued that the presumption requires more weight to be given to the achievement of sustainable development (as a material consideration) than to the policies of the development plan. Not only is this consistent with the normal meaning of the word 'presumption' but all development plans should be contributing to the achievement of sustainable development and those which aren't should be considered out of date and/or non-compliant with Government policy.

I have not heard the expression sustainable development mentioned on the TV programme but maybe the excitement is being stored up? Another concept that the BBC does not seem to regard as worthy of investigation is the level of under-occupation being 'enjoyed' by the objectors to new housing estates.  Most if not all of the house types being shown seem to be family housing that is more affordable to those who no longer have families and should be more accurately described as 'pension-pot' housing.  It also seems that most if not all objectors are close to if not past retirement age when concern is increasing about the size of their pension pot.  I hope in future episodes that the BBC asks objectors about their own circumstances (about 75% of houses in rural and suburban areas have at least one and more often two or more spare bedrooms) other than the enjoyment and value of the view from their patio.  I would also like to hear the views of the under 35s.

Finally I would like to hear the professionals analysing the sustainability of the various developments and advising committee whether they should benefit from the presumption in the Framework.

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