Or “Why a populist approach to planning is a mistake”
It is a fact that planning decisions made by local authorities, the Planning Inspectorate (“PINS”) or the Secretary of State will not always reflect the vocal opinions of some local groups, even where they claim to speak for the whole community. This was always a strength not a weakness of the planning system. However, this principle is being eroded which, in my view, is threatening the legitimacy of our whole system of development control.
“NIMBYISM”, in common parlance, used to be a way of dismissing the objections of local people to schemes they didn’t like. It was understood that people near a proposed development site might be opposed due to fears (founded or unfounded) about temporary or permanent impacts. The purpose of the planning system was to take such concerns into account but to weigh up the impacts overall for the community and the nation when making local plans and taking decisions on planning applications.
In the past decade, however, much of what might have in the past been condemned or dismissed as NIMBYISM is now celebrated and encouraged by government as “localism”.
How has this happened, and what should be done?
In my view we should be rowing back rather than further embracing a populist approach to planning. In this article (see here), I explain why. I should be delighted to discuss this further with clients, decision-makers and government.