Monday, March 10, 2014

Planning for a Better Future

This the letter sent to the Planning Officer's Society on 2014 03 10 in response to their Manifesto "Planning for a Better Future". Dear John I have read through the POS briefing note and thought I would email some thoughts. The POS almost by definition comprises those at the top of our profession who have reached these elevated positions through hard work and merit but also an amount of conforming to established norms. So, to the extent to which the planning profession is responsible for the 'town and country' which has been created over the last 60 years, it is the members of the POS who must take most of the credit and blame. If both town and country are in precarious and unsustainable states then 'planning for a better future' would be expected to make some references to what has gone wrong in the past and how an established profession could be expected to adapt so as to do better in the future. In fact the briefing appears to concentrate very heavily on building a future that is a projection of the present with a thread of the expectation of economic growth rather than the 'golden thread' in the NPPF that is the presumption in favour of sustainable development. This presumption barely gets a mention in decisions taken locally, by inspectors or the Secretary of State and when it does, there is an absence of the analysis of how the development proposal would be consistent with the carbon reduction path embedded in the Climate Change Act (and proposed by the Committee on Climate Change the the interim carbon budgets). Of course 'sustainable development' is referred to in the briefing note (eg 'Planning is the key to meeting housing needs and delivering economic growth through the creation of sustainable development') but, 'The major challenge facing the incoming government..' is described as '...delivering sustained economic growth. '. To be compatible with the Framework the POS should be reframing the challenge to how, or what kind of 'growth' could be sustained that would be compatible with environmental boundaries (including the statutory carbon descent). I have been giving some planning aid to groups and individuals comprising the younger generation for whom a 'postive legacy' should be planned for. In doing so I have re-examined the 'credentials' with which I preface my evidence given at planning inquiries. The POS see itself as the '...single credible voice for public sector planning practitioners.'. It seems to me that my 40 years of planning should count for very little and the voices of younger people, most of whom are not going to be part of our profession but will have to live with the outcomes of our advice/decisions should count for far more.(see latest blog on Regards Daniel

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