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Pickles woos CBI

March 22, 2011

Communities secretary Eric Pickles delivered a key note speech to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) last night in which he described the planning system as a ‘drag anchor’ to economic growth, the full text can be read below.

“As you’ll know, this week’s Budget will set out the Government’s plans to go for growth.

And my Department has a huge role to play.

I’m very proud of our reputation as one of the most deregulating Departments in Whitehall.

Much of this has been cutting the red tape that local councils face from the central state… from Comprehensive Area Assessment… to Place Surveys… to National Indicator Sets.

We’ve also cut red tape on the voluntary sector – such as making it easier for local communities to hold street parties during the Royal Wedding.

And we’re cutting regulation and removing obstacles that local firms face.

I think the Department – like many others – hasn’t paid enough attention to business in the past. But things are very different now.

One of the first things I did on arrival was to scrap Home Information Packs… an action which has cut the cost of selling a home.

I’ve scrapped the ports tax…stopping the unfair and retrospective imposition of backdated business rates on firms in ports, which threatened to sink our export trade.

I’ve removed Whitehall planning rules which compelled councils to hike up parking charges in town centres.

And I’ve also abolished plans for penalty taxes to be imposed on parking spaces at local supermarkets.


On rates, I’ve doubled small business relief for a year, and the law is being changed to make it easier for small firms to claim it automatically without continuously filling in forms.

And soon, I hope, it’ll be goodbye to more red tape. I can reveal today I am actively considering scrapping the so-called Local Authority Two-Tier Code introduced by the then Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.

Where councils outsource functions, it required private firms to employ new workers on the same terms as the public sector workers who transferred across.

It has increased the cost to the taxpayer of providing public services, and is actively discouraging the creation of new jobs by private firms.

I can also announce that we will be relaxing regulations that have stopped developers converting disused commercial property into homes.

It’s in everyone’s interests to make it easier to turn run-down old eyesores into much-needed new homes. Let the market decide what’s best so far as housing is concerned.

I want Whitehall to get out of the way, and I want to work with councils and local firms to create local jobs and local growth.

I know some people are sceptical about localism.

Some even argue that growth is incompatible with localism.

But my answer is – was centralisation such a great success – with Ministers pulling the strings and bureaucrats blindly following orders?

After years of regional house building targets house building fell to its lowest peacetime levels since 1924.

Too often, Whitehall targets had a perverse, unintended consequence.

National planning rules on density helped create an unsustainable glut of flats, worsening the shortage of family homes.

Targets on councils to assess planning applications by a set deadline encouraged them to refuse complex applications just to meet that deadline.

And laws like the 2004 Planning Act, and its requirement to provide volumes of Local Development Documents, made the planning system slower rather than faster.

All centralisation has done is create a completely unbalanced economy.  Over reliant on particular industries.  Over reliant on the public sector.  Over reliant on a tiny fraction of our potential.

Through localism, we are putting power, responsibility and accountability back in the hands of people who know what they are doing.

Who understand their area.

Who know its strengths.

Who care about its future.

Because we believe in incentives rather than instructions.

In co-operation, rather than conflict.

So we’re giving communities a reason to say ‘yes’ to development and to new homes – because they’ll see the financial benefits.

It seems incredible to me that for years, we’ve had a system where at best, councils did not have a direct financial interest in what local businesses were up to and whether their fortunes went up or down.

And at worst, it’s like they deliberately set out to frustrate businesses with petty rules and regulations.

We are saying; clearly and unambiguously, local government should be positively supporting local businesses.

And we’re using the financial carrot, rather than the legal stick.

I think it’s a wonderful thing – by shaking up the business rates system, they’ve got a financial stake in the growth and creation of local firms.

Though of course – unless any of you tell me this is what you want – that doesn’t mean the green light to rack up the rates.

Instead, were saying to councils: you’ve got to take responsibility for promoting growth and enterprise.

Some seem to think that being pro-business has to mean being anti-green.

When in fact, it’s business that is at the cutting edge of low carbon technology.

Or that being anti-business means being anti-community.

Well growing a strong business environment isn’t a threat to a healthy community – it’s the foundation.

Councils have wanted greater freedom, greater flexibility, the chance to be in the driving seat.

But they have simply got to be prepared for the responsibility that comes with that.

It means if you want to get things done: don’t wait for Government to pass a law or sort it out for you.  Get on with it.

Take that chance to work with the community in your shared interests – or risk the economic consequences of cowardice and indecision.

One of the biggest sources of friction between councils and business is the planning system.

The problem is – frankly – structural.

Today, there are something like 900,000 words in planning guidance.

That makes War and Peace look like light reading.

In fact, that’s more than the complete works of Shakespeare.

And, if we carried on at the same rate over the next Parliament, we’d have not just the complete works of Shakespeare but the Bible as well – both Old and New Testaments.

Just think, if Kirsty Young ever invites me on to Desert Island Discs, I’d be able to say give me the “complete planner”. I am confident that with each page turn I would increase my desire to be rescued.

The planning system should act as a driver for growth.

But if I am being completely frank with you, it’s the drag anchor to growth.

How many proposals disappear into the planning system, never to be seen again?

Millions of pounds are wasted.

Many months and years are lost to delays.

We need a system which supports growth: not shuts it down.

We need a system that always says yes to the right sorts of development.

Which gets to grips with the national housing shortage.

Which helps business grow and expand.

And which delivers the infrastructure, transport, and energy we need to thrive in this new century of ours.

We also need a system that is much more democratic.

When targets and plans are dreamed up in remote offices far from the places they are supposed to help, it’s no surprise that communities stamp their feet and say no.

In fact, there really is only one option. The only way they get listened to.

We’ve got a system that is largely predicated upon conflict, which sets up business, councils and communities as adversaries.

When I came into office is appeared to me that we have a planning process that function by appeal.

What we need is a system which encourages them to work together.

And let’s be clear, democracy must not, does not, come at the cost of delays.

Neighbourhood plans will involve every part of the community, businesses as well as residents, right from the very outset.

More agreement upfront means fewer wrangles later on.

We need a system which is much, much simpler.

At the moment, it’s a labyrinth. Few dare to enter. Even fewer survived unscathed.

Using the planning system shouldn’t feel like you’re going ten rounds with bureaucracy.

And we shouldn’t need an army of experts to navigate it.

I am absolutely determined to cut the planning system down to size.

Less the length of a Shakespearian tragedy, more the brevity of the Gettysburg address.

I want a system where both local residents and local councils see the benefits of development, and work together with local firms to shape the future of their community.


Despite billions of pounds thrown at Regional Development Agencies; we’ve still got huge inequality between different parts of the country.

I don’t believe regionalism worked.

We needed a new way of local firms and local councils working hand in hand to promote economic development.

Local Enterprise Partnerships have a radically different approach to economic development.

Putting local councils and local businesses in the driving seat.

It’s all about growth, not about grants.

And those local partnerships will be at the heart of new the Local Enterprise Zones.

Helping define exactly where we should cut taxes still further.   And sweeping away the restrictions on growth.  So that new businesses and new jobs can flourish.

With this kind of opportunity on offer, it is no wonder there has been a very positive response.   Local enterprise partnerships now cover 90 per cent of the country.

To everyone involved it is obvious, they are moving at different rates.

But I don’t see anything wrong with that.

In fact, I think a bit of healthy competition, a bit of rivalry, is probably quite a good thing.

Now I know that some of you started off as sceptics about these new partnerships.

But what I really do appreciate is the way that the CBI and its members have worked with us.

And I know that discussions have happened with many of my officials – including my Permanent Secretary.

In truth I don’t mind a bit of disagreement. I am from Yorkshire a place that has made bluntness an art form. The CBI has been robust in your views on planning and growth.

I think we have ended up with something much better than what we started with.

That is thanks to you and your members who’ve been prepared to work with us.

I’m very grateful for that.

And I hope it’s just one of the areas where we’ll continue to work closely together in future.

I certainly believe that it’s important to get the question of local growth correct and through that to deliver a better Britain.

Thank you very much.”


40 Comments leave one →
  1. edward brown 111 permalink
    March 22, 2011 12:34 pm

    Generally known that Britain has one of the fatest planning systems in Europe.

    ?Who is trying to woo who and why”

    “is it to do with HS2 among other reasons”.

    Government run Sustainable Development Commission has blasted HS2 in its report published last week – “Fairness in a Car Dependant Society”.

    However, the report cannot be found easily on the commission’s website – why?

  2. James Dyson permalink
    March 22, 2011 1:16 pm

    Pickles is wrong. It is politicians who refuse perfectly acceptable applications which are needed to provide jobs and homes, not planners!

    • Roger permalink
      March 22, 2011 1:46 pm

      Yes, you’re right it is sometimes the politicians who stand in the way of what is seen by others as an acceptable form of development, but it is the system that gives them some of their ‘excuses’ for doing so – what exactly is ‘adverse impact on the residental amenity of the neighbours’?.
      However, it is also local politics that creates much of the resistance and I think you are likely to see more not less resistance, initially at least, because of the public’s interpretation of what ‘powers’ localism gives them.
      If local politicians continue to keep the development process at arms length until it reaches committee, we are going to an increase in the conflict Eric Pickles is trying to address. Much as I hate to invite DCLG to interfere more than they already are, in this case they could help the whole process by giving some clear and unequivocal guidance of pre-application consultation and in particular, the require for members (including parish councillors) to be involved at the earliest opportunity.

      • Allan Trimgood permalink
        March 22, 2011 3:34 pm

        What exactly is ‘adverse impact on the residental amenity of the neghbours’? It is things like being overlooked, loss of privacy in your back garden, overshadowing of your garden so as to deprive it (or rooms in your property) of light, and so on, as well as nuisance and disturbance of various kinds. But you presumably would clearly have no problem with that sort of thing, so would not object to a large development being built right on your boundary, because ‘adverse impact on the residental amenity of the neighbours’ is an entirely nebulous concept with which you will have no truck.

      • Roger permalink
        March 24, 2011 12:49 pm

        Allan, that’s exactly my point. All the points you list are the sort of thing that should (assuming that they are valid) be used when documenting a reason for refusal. Unfortunately, and this is where the officer has to be confident enough to say so the ‘phrase adverse impact’ is often use as a coverall for we don’t like, but we not sure what the planning reasons are.
        When I first joined my council, the standard committee decision when met with an application they did or did not like (against the officer’s recommendation) was, ‘minded to refuse/approve, with officers to come back to the committee with reasons for refusal/approval’. This meant that you were seeing well over 50% of applications at least twice.
        I found this cop out by members totally unaccepatable and one of the first things I did when I became the chairman was to begin to resist and eventually outright refuse to accept any attempt by a member to move something against the officer’s recommendation without giving a sound planning reason for doing so.
        I also told officers that they would have my backing if they stood up to the committee and didn’t just roll over when they tried to overturn the recommendation without a planning based reason.
        Unfortunately, if we are not very careful, Eric Pickles push to effectively allow members to predetermine an application and then still be involved in the decision making process, is not going to help to improve the reputation of elected members with the professionals one bit!

  3. Beardyman permalink
    March 22, 2011 1:22 pm

    So the glut of town centre flats in some locations was ALL to do with planning and nothing whatsoever to do with market forces?

    Do me a favour, Pickles.

  4. Dr Boots permalink
    March 22, 2011 1:23 pm

    And yet again the RTPI says nothing…

    • doom-bar permalink
      March 23, 2011 2:29 pm

      May be worth looking on the RTPI front page and viewing Richard Summers’ response –

      I’ve been vocal enough in the past about the RTPI not saying the right things and being too fearful of standing up for the profession, but this time they have it spot on.

      • Necropolis permalink
        March 24, 2011 7:58 am

        But why do they have to say it in the first place? If they’d actually done their job properly and been at the table with the Government in the first place then statements like this wouldn’t be needed in the first place.

  5. KWalker permalink
    March 22, 2011 1:32 pm

    This Government needs seems to be going out of its way to alienate the entire (and I must add very hard working) planning profession. If planning reform was drafted by planning professionals rather than being tivkered with by politicians, we might actually achieve a slicker system…

    The proposed reform do little to re-risk the planning process allowing developers surity that planning permision will be forthcoming. Pickles, do you REALLY know what you are talking about?

  6. Roger permalink
    March 22, 2011 1:52 pm

    I’m actually thankful for small mercies when reading this speech.

    It’s the first time I’ve read anything where Pickles appears to blame the system he and his predecessors are responsibility for, rather than the poor bloody foot soldiers (the planners) for the problems he now perceives as the root of all our ills.

    He and others might still be wrong in their suggested solutions (NHB, community plans, LEP, enterprise zones) , but at least he’s right about some of the causes.

  7. McBain_v1 permalink
    March 22, 2011 2:15 pm

    Have to concur with you in that local politicians are going to go a little bit ‘power crazy’ at first until they realise what they ought to be doing. Mind you, with a neighbourhood plan costing somewhere in the region of £200,000 I can’t see many of them materialising either (unless the development sector is expected to stump up the cash).

    Of course, by the time the ‘localism’ experiment is mature enough to be assessed it will be too late. We will have another bodged planning system to contend with, inadequate local plan coverage and an absence of a national planning framework – in other words exactly the same situation we have had for the last ten years.

    The planning advocates must be licking their jowly chops in anticipation of the appeal work that will be coming their way.

  8. Pip permalink
    March 22, 2011 3:00 pm

    Numerous schemes I’ve worked on have been delayed or (at worst) refused, not on account of professional planning officers, but because of councillors and MPs’ objections on non-substantiated, non-planning grounds. That is to say CONSERVATIVE councillors and CONSERVATIVE MPs whose only interests is protecting their back yards.

    • Tom permalink
      March 22, 2011 3:48 pm

      To be fair, in my experience political affiliation has little impact on how awkward a politian can be, nor on their level of ignorance of the planning system.

      • Pip permalink
        March 23, 2011 8:41 am

        True, councillors of any colour can be obstructive when they want to.

  9. saintly permalink
    March 22, 2011 3:46 pm

    The RTPI even supports Pickles’ ideas!

    Why doesn’t he realise that planners are professionals, who know their area and can cope with matters far better than a bunch on unqualified do-gooders.

    We will either end up with a NIMBY’s charter or town cramming.

    God help the plannnig profession.

    • March 22, 2011 4:47 pm

      agreed. oh to have some of the trust, freedoms (and money!) the government seem to be investing in other professions, notably GPs

    • Duncan permalink
      March 22, 2011 4:51 pm

      Mr Pickles continues to ignore the fact that Local Plans and Local Development Frameworks were always prepared in full consultation with the electorate and thus took account of local issues and concerns. Whilst there could be a better approach to engaging and informing the local electorate in such processes, I fail to see the need to revamp the current system which is only just starting to bear fruit after the last set of tinkering. Neighbourhood Plans will only add another layer of time delay to the completion of the LDF process in each LPA.

      • Roger permalink
        March 23, 2011 4:20 pm

        I have no great faith that these neighbourhood plans will either bear much fruit or achieve any of the goals ministers claim.
        However, neither do I see them delaying the process of producing the local plan (LDF) as they are subservient to them and must reflect both it and national policies.

    • Tom permalink
      March 23, 2011 8:33 am

      I think its because politians themselves need absolutely no qualifications in anything, or have any relevant experience, to be elected and put in charge of different areas of government.

      • Roger permalink
        March 23, 2011 4:28 pm

        Tom, you are obviously very bitter about elected member involvement in the planning process and may well have sound personal reasons for being so. However, what you are missing, is the fact that officers can only apply the policy that is in place.
        It would be very difficult for them to then also take on the ‘democratic’ element of balancing the policy against the views of the community that the elected member represents.
        Where things go wrong is when elected members are fed only the minimum of training and not given sufficent understanding of the issues before being required to make the balanced judgements demanded by the planning system.

      • Necropolis permalink
        March 24, 2011 8:09 am

        Actually Roger, I disagree, thats exactly what Planners do now. Take the Policy framework, take in to account the potential for the benefits the proposal will bring (jobs, homes, better design etc), and then the concerns of the community and stakeholders and make a decision.

        Show me any Planning Committe that refused an application that their electorate supported but the Environment Agency objected to and I’ll show you 50 who did the opposite. And thats with training, pre app involvement and as much engagement as politicians like.

        The issue is that politicians arent in it to make good decisions on sustainable development and growth. If they were, they’d be Planners. They’re in it to get elected again in 4 years, and to do that, however nice a person they are deep down, they have to crowd please.

      • Tom permalink
        March 24, 2011 8:48 am

        Its not elected member involvement in the planning process, its a general disillusionment with elected officials in general.
        And becomming increasing fed up with politians telling me that anyone can do my job, despite the 4 years I spent getting degrees and postgradute qualifications, followed by membership of the RTPI and then many years of planning experience.

        If you look at my other posts I’m actually fully in favour of the public and elected officials getting involved in the policy side of planning, I’m just far less enthusiastic about them getting involved in techinical issues of individual applications which they cannot be reasonably expected to be able to form a proper view on

    • Pandora permalink
      March 23, 2011 8:51 am

      “Why doesn’t he realise that planners are professionals, who know their area and can cope with matters far better than a bunch on unqualified do-gooders” in incredibly patronising to those of us who are not planners.
      I’m afraid that some planners are unprofessional, don’t know their area and can’t cope with matters far better than a bunch of unqualified do-gooders” – just like in other jobs.

      No wonder you styled yourself “Saintly”. And don’t forget that, outside the district where they work, some planners are the “unqualified do-gooders” who have NIMBY objections when it comes to their own homes.

      • Tom permalink
        March 23, 2011 10:07 am

        Would you be happy with my conducting heart surgery on you? I mean after all, I know the basics of how the heart works, I did get an A in GCSE biology after all. No? why not, if you dont need professionals to do things.
        How about I manage your finances for you? Lets face it I cant make a worse job of it than the bankers right now can I? No? alright then, next time you have a legal problem give me a call, I may not be a solicitor or a lawyer, but hey, I can just read the legislation and wing it?

        But you are happy to let completely unqualified unexperienced people shape the way development is controlled in an area. Choices which affect the housing market, the economy, the standard of living of whole communities? Why do you think a layman can possibly be expect to understand the complexities of the planning system any more than I can be expected to conduct heart surgery?

        The problem with making things more accessible, is that you create the mistaken belief that anyone can do it. And for too long we’ve let people belittle the planning system and the professional planners, who require an incredible amount of specialist knowledge to do their jobs.

  10. March 22, 2011 4:43 pm

    2 fact checks:

    1. ‘After years of regional house building targets house building fell to its lowest peacetime levels since 1924’

    No: This figure is often quoted by the coalition but it is taken from a time when it was Tory generated uncertainty before the election that drove the (admittedly, already low recession-affected)figure down to this level, e.g. spellmans letter.

    2. ‘Despite billions of pounds thrown at Regional Development Agencies; we’ve still got huge inequality between different parts of the country.

    I don’t believe regionalism worked.’

    No: RDAs controlled less than 2% of regional budgets. Also, its a common misunderstanding but RDAs objectives were not simply regional convergence. The government has in fact failed regionalism – How will LEPs with zero budget and little influence on other public spending work better?

    general comments:

    – Come on Eric, since when is the number of words a measure of whether a planning system is any good or not? This is line is not even good for a cheap laugh, recent history teaches us this route leads to planning by appeal which provides certainty and effeiceny for no one.

    – surely the planning system should be about good, sustainable development (or making of place, mediation of space in RTPI language) not simply ‘growth’? I thought this was orthodoxy now but sadly maybe not.

    – If this is all the Coalition have to support economic growth: changes to the planning system, then god help us, it really operates around the margins at best.

    However, I do begrugingly agree with on SOME of the analysis about the perverse impact of targets in the system

  11. devonbj permalink
    March 22, 2011 7:10 pm

    I am a planning professional and it is supreme arrogance to state that it is only planning professionals who should judge on planning matters. We may be qualified, but we are not elected and do not have the mandate to make decisions that should be decided democratically. Some people need to get off their high horse, accept that there’s no perfect system and stop whinging

    • SCH permalink
      March 23, 2011 10:29 am

      Quite so – which is why it is politicians who make the decisions in many cases. The role of the planning officer is to set out the facts of the case and make a recommendation, sure, but it is the politicians who have the final say precisely because they do represent wider, non-planning interests (or should do, ideally) and have been democratically elected to do so. That goes for local plans, regional strategies and all the rest – regional planning bodies were also made up of councillors in the main. The problems occur where (for various reasons, including the simple fact of politicians being humans and thus prone to things like emotions and prejudices) the process of decision – making becomes twisted. Then planning becomes the scapegoat for a whole range of disgruntled participants in the process and those who work to deliver that process are all lumped together.

      • Necropolis permalink
        March 24, 2011 8:25 am

        Ummm actually, I never voted for the Councillors in my area. I voted for someone different and they lost. Ok, I hear you say, but thays democracy. To which I’d point out that in my ward only around 1/3rd of people voted.

        So no, my Local Councillors dont represent the views of my area as my area didnt actually really vote them in. Bet its the same in your area as well. That, I’d say is more of a systematic problem with our electoral system… But any which way the end result is the same.

        That electoral issue aside, I’d also say that even if I didnt vote for Councillors in my area, the ones who did get in are not on the Planning Committee, none of them are Lead Member for Planning, and none of them are Leader of the Council.

        The end result? They have as much say in local Planning Decisions as any stranger off the street.

        Just because someone won a badly run popularity contest does not mean they are qualified to make fair and balanced decisions (dont forget Planners have as many qualifications as engineers, social workers and teachers if not more), and even if there are a few who are (as I’m sure there are), it doesnt mean they’ll actually play any part in decision making, thats all down to party politics, not professional expertise or understanding of the system.

      • SCH permalink
        March 24, 2011 10:35 am

        Necropolis – don’t disagree with you at all. I was thinking of an ideal situation, after all! What I was more concerned about is that when politicians do make uninformed or unfair decisions, often against the advice of officers, it’s all of us who get lambasted by the criticisms that follow and there’s no attempt to distinguish between (crudely) the technical and political elements of the decision-making process.

  12. Pandora permalink
    March 22, 2011 7:36 pm

    Sounds to me like he would prefer to scrap Planning Departments and get the CBI to do the job instead – maybe as part of the “Big Society”? !!!!!

  13. Tom permalink
    March 23, 2011 8:37 am

    Pickles is working under the false assumption that planning is simple and that people will naturally agree on the best way to take things forward. It’s something that afflicts many politicians from the Tory party who think have failed to adapt to the fragmented modern society.

  14. Stortford permalink
    March 23, 2011 9:45 am

    If Mr Pickles thinks “…the 2004 Planning Act, and its requirement to provide volumes of Local Development Documents, made the planning system slower rather than faster…” then why is there nothing in the Localism bill changing that part of the system?

    Does this mean the Localism Bill is merely going to be their first stab at reform of the system?

  15. Kate W permalink
    March 23, 2011 12:39 pm

    I totally agree with Duncan (above) who commented that the LDF process already involves communities and LDDs have been consulted upon widely. After all SCIs have been put in place meaning that communities and hard to reach groups are supposed to be involved. If this process was such a failure, why did no-one challenge the SCIs when they came up for reconsultation?

    The LDF process has been far more inclusive than the old Local Plan process, there has been more opportunity to be involved at a community or district level. The reason the consultation process takes so long is exactly because it’s trying to get as many people as possible involved in an iterative process where comments to initial stages are incorporated into further stages. You can’t have a simple but inclusive, iterative process, the two are pretty much mutually exclusive.

    I work for an environmental charity rather than a planning authority and it has been far, far easier to get the views of our members incorporated into LDF documents than it ever was trying to influence local plans.

    On a completely different note, I’m just wondering why there has been no post and little publicity on Planning Blog about the CLG Select Committee’s savaging of the abolitions of RSSs?

  16. RichardW permalink
    March 23, 2011 12:44 pm

    There are a number of comments above which highlight the key choice about planning; should it be rational planning by disinterested aloof professionals, or populist planning by local communities and vote chasing politicians, or, as we have had for many years, an unholy alliance of both?

    we can all make objective arguments for “more professional input” or “more community input” but I doubt there is a final right or wrong answer. Tom is right, you shouldn’t trust amateurs to make professional decisions. devonbj is right that professionals shouldn’t dictate political decisions. The question is, do we/society/government want a professional planning system or a populist/political planning system?

    Those like me that believe rational, responsive, professional planning guided by highly trained flexibly minded planners with a high degree of local knowledge is for the best may be proved right by history, but do we have the support of society right now?

    After all, 100+ years on from Garden Cities et al we’re still not quite agreed amongst ourselves whether planning is an Art or a Science . . .

    • Tom permalink
      March 23, 2011 3:53 pm

      I’m not against the general public getting involved in planning, I just think it needs to be at the policy stage, that once an application is in, the professional planners need to make a judgement based on policy and technical issues. Its the only way to ensure there is a degree of certainty in the system and make sure its fair.

      Though I do think we really need to push the idea of publc involvement in policy setting and make it clear how important this is. Otherwise the public feel ignored when an application comes in and their objections are overwritten because it accords with policy, They need to feel like its ‘their’ plan.

  17. Gamekeeper turned Poacher permalink
    March 23, 2011 3:14 pm

    RicahrdW is right – all we have really proved so far is that there is inherent friction between the professional arm of the system and the political/populist arm. Localism will undoubtedbly add power to the latter, which some may see as a good thing, but not if you want to move controversial but necessary development forward. Planners also look long term, politicians short term – they are on 4 year contracts in effect. Pickles can hand as much power and responsibility as he likes to his political colleagues at local level, but unless he can guarantee them that their planning decisions will not affect their votes at the next local election, then he’s focussing on the wrong part of the system he criticises. Meanwhile those of us at the coalface will work away as usual, or at least try to.

  18. Grant permalink
    March 23, 2011 9:32 pm

    With accusations such as these becoming something of a common occurance for Mr Pickles, It’s only a matter of time before Humpty Dumpty has a great fall…

    • Necropolis permalink
      March 24, 2011 11:01 am

      Bring back the old Tory days when the tabloid media wasn’t so scared of losing Government support that they would dig up real dirt on politicians on a daily basis.


  1. Eric Pickles finally picks the right target | Roger Gambba-Jones

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