Wednesday, June 14, 2017

What do the younger generation really really want?

The election result raises a number of questions about the future of planning, not least the appointment of Alok Sharma, an accountant by trade and with no obvious experience of either planning or housing, as the new Minister under the CLG Secretary Sajid Javid.

I see the most important message from the events of 8 June as the potential start of the process of politicizing  more 18 to 30 year olds.  With apologies for the generalisations, in the past the election process has been dominated by those in the 50 plus age group and their media of choice (from the ITV/BBC/Guardian to the Mail, Telegraph, Times, Express and Sun) favouring forms of conservatism which have striven and appeared to protect their relatively short term interests (5 to 10 years). 

In stark contrast, when an 18year old considers where their interest lies, it could and should relate to a much longer time span – extending to 50 years. In this time frame issues like climate change become more relevant and matters like migration over the longer term, international relations, behavioural change, the nature of housing and living and even the development of towns and cities appear as legitimate concerns.

I have been sensitive to the fact that the Blog would make no sense if it did not express (strong) opinions about the use of land and buildings but, at the same time, DanthePlan is not in his first flush of youth and should not pretend that he can represent the views of the younger generation who should be seriously engaged in planning their own future.   For me, the analysis of the election result which suggests an increased appetite for younger people to but a cross next to their favoured candidate raises the important question of whether individually or collectively they actually know what they want to achieve through developing their political engagement?

All those already involved in the land use planning system should be aiming to challenge younger people to think very hard about the future they want, and to provide the means for them to develop these ideas and put them into practice.  As part of the new politics, this process cannot rely on the traditional media, and planning professionals must engage with younger generations on their terms. I would not be surprised if the vision(s) of the future developed by an empowered  younger generation turn out to be significantly different to those envisaged by those currently pulling the strings.