Friday, 30 July 2010

The Community Right to Build


I don’t propose to waste time discussing the government’s proposals for the so-called ‘Right to Build’ proposals. They will clearly require primary legislation, which we are promised will be included in the ‘Decentralisation and Localism’ Bill when this comes before parliament later this year or early next year.

Like much of what has been announced by this government so far, it will all be dependent upon the formulation of detailed proposals. Until that happens, it is no more than ministerial waffle.

The ‘Community Right to Build’ seems set to drive a coach and horses through the concept of plan-led planning, but the government has already blasted a huge hole in that concept by the abolition of regional strategies. The future of Development Plans is clearly another subject which the ‘Decentralisation and Localism’ Bill will have to tackle.

The government seems hell-bent on reducing the planning system to complete chaos, and appears to be oblivious of the consequences of doing so. I am neither a supporter nor an opponent of this government, but they seem to have all the judgment and wisdom of a set of characters out of the Jeeves and Wooster stories. I am not sure who I would nominate for the roles of Bertie Wooster or Gussie Fink-Nottle. The trouble is that the civil service may have considerable difficulty in fulfilling the role of Jeeves and extricating their young masters from the scrapes they are likely to get themselves into.

If the proposed legislation emerges in anything like the form which is apparently envisaged by ministers, we can look forward to bands of community enthusiasts battling it out with the local NIMBYs over rural housing proposals. As a planning lawyer I am already salivating at the prospect.

© MARTIN HGOODALL

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