So, ministers have been ordered to “think the unthinkable” in efforts to stimulate the economy back to life and pull Britain out of its double-dip recession. That is, according to the Daily Telegraph.
I come back from holiday and apparently further planning reform is back on the agenda, including relaxation of the green belt and other pro-growth measures. In case you hadn’t noticed, we’ve just been through a major planning revolution. Indeed, local planning authorities up and down the country are busy implementing it as they update their local plans, and the Department of Communities and Local Government is currently consulting on a number of further (relatively minor) reforms.
The reforms so far are already pro-growth; the surprising fact is that both the development and environment sectors are pretty happy with how the reforms have worked out, although as I’ve said elsewhere, a lot will come down to the resources and skills that local authorities have available to implement them.
‘Blue sky’ thinking has a place, but here are some reasons why thinking the unthinkable may not be such a good idea. I leave it to you to decide which apply.
(a) Last time you did it, it provoked a storm
(b) Most interested parties are quite pleased with the current situation
(c) We don’t know yet if the last lot of reforms will work
(d) No-one has any appetite for further fundamental reform
(e) Further reform, even if justified, will only create short-term chaos
(f) You haven’t properly understood the many benefits of the planning system (see what I said about our report Inexpensive Progress?)
(g) It won’t work anyway
(h) It’s just plain daft
Well, August is the silly season. Let’s hope that the rational voice of ministers who understand the planning system will prevail.