This is a letter on the online version of the Guardian 21 June.
"Having worked as a town planner for over 40 years it is thrilling to
see my profession in the middle of a debate about the future of the
country (Is this by-election a watershed moment?19 June). The
background to the Planning Bill is a White Paper written by a recruit
to No10 from Policy Exchange. And Policy Exchange fielded another of
their analysts in the aftermath of the Chesham by-election to blame
the voters' for misunderstanding the forthcoming changes to the
It would be truer to say that as the think tank, Mr Jenrick, the Prime
Minister and the White Paper have all avoided the real problems with
providing decent, energy efficient and affordable homes their
'remedies' were never going to work in either the north or south of
the country. The LibDems should follow their election win by
explaining how they would deal with inflated prices of building land,
construction carbon, cold and leaky houses/flats and unsustainable
levels of under-occupation."
I have to say that I am a little bit pleased to see how Policy Exchange has seen their plans backfire so spectacularly. Whether or not the Chesham voters had read and understood the White Paper, the label of "developers' charter" is likely to stick. Bleating that the purpose would be to "build beautiful" (Policy Exchange), and to "increase supply" (the PM) does not alter the impression that this ideological and badly framed change to the planning system is primarily designed to help the Tory supporting development fraternity. The (too) cozy relationship between Policy Exchange and Government might also be punctured.
There are some good intentions in the White Paper but these are largely irrelevant or harmful to the climate and ecological emergency. Any changes to the system should be vigorously resisted until they deal with, "...inflated prices of building land, construction carbon, cold and leaky houses/flats and unsustainable levels of under-occupation."