Friday, June 27, 2014
Young planners and the green belt
It is a theme of these blogs to question whether planners of a younger generation are being given a voice and whether the profession as a whole is serving the interests of older generations (the overwhelming constituency of property owners) to the disadvantage of everybody else. on 26 June a debate a the green belt (focusing on Oxford with reference to Cambridge as a comparable) was organised by Thames Valley Young Planners. The event was ably chaired by a young planner and the research officer from the Council might not have been much over 30. However, the four other members of the panel were of the older generation (just) and the contributions from the floor were all from relatively elderly men. Many of the questions submitted before the event might well have been from young planners but I left the debate without hearing a young voice or an opinion about how green belts might serve their generation. We know that green belts have been an important planning tool in the containment of urban Britain that has been part of the excuse for limiting housing supply and maintaining house prices. I doubt that abandoning green belts would have any discernible impact on either the release of housing land (that would be controlled in any event through development plans) or for that matter on house prices. However, I would have liked to have heard other end younger views on this subject. I would suggest that Young Planner Groups (including Novus a branch of the Planning Officer Society) conduct a policy review from the perspective of those who will be living and experiencing the transition to a very low carbon future by 2050 and beyond. I happen to think that implies a greater degree of localism in the way we live, work, and play but my opinions should become progressively irrelevant and superseded by those who matter.