Planning system: Mark’s reply to his MP

Planning Session
Planning Session; picture from Designing Buildings Wiki

Extract from Mark’s response on the planning system

Dear Mr Collins,

Thank you for your reply. Unfortunately I was rather disappointed that you have not fully addressed the matter. For example, you state that the planning system has been a barrier to building homes that are affordable and so you believe an effective relaxation of planning restrictions would ease that problem. Unfortunately the evidence does not support this view. If the government were serious about building homes for people to live in, it would be investing in social housing not concentrating on the misnamed “affordable housing”.

I have looked into affordable housing for my daughter and realised that there is very little ‘affordable’ about it. The schemes are designed to provide profit for developers rather than being truly affordable, with many schemes artificially hiking the price of the new builds from the outset. The buyer is also committed to paying both mortgage, rent and ground/maintenance charges, making the ongoing costs less than affordable.

The planning process as it stands is not perfect but I believe it is rightly slow because decisions about land use must involve communities in the decision process and decisions should not be taken lightly. Engagement in this process is currently at an unacceptably low level because there are significant barriers for the public to become involved – not least that the vast majority believe that consultations are a purely paper exercise and public opinion plays a tiny part in decisions, particularly with the bias that exists.

This is borne out by the many examples of bad developments which have been allowed to proceed in this county and right across the UK. The government should be promoting engagement, not creating more barriers. The reforms will make it virtually impossible for the public to comment on individual planning applications…

Planning system: Editor’s Note

In the current system, members of the public (here in Ashford, at least) can apply to receive the weekly notices. One can be notified of any planning applications received by the Borough Planning office. With a click, all the documents, including the maps and building diagrams, are available. This is a highly efficient digital system.  Readers – please try it for your area and tell us if you don’t have this facility in your area.

What Mark’s article tells us is that the proposed new planning system will mean that construction will go ahead. Namely, in those areas already classified for developments without the public being able to view the details.

More letters need to be sent to Kent MPs about this. 

Also, do continue to send in articles about developments in your area.