Fighting A Losing Battle
I must admit to a slight sinking feeling whenever the thick file of papers known as the Agenda and reports for the next District Council planning committee fall on my doormat.
It isn’t because of the amount of reading and preparation I have to do, but it is the prospect of battling once again to preserve our conservation areas.
Planning isn’t really so complicated, but I have found that a significant number of Councillors don’t grasp it, or even want to understand it.
As I have often pleaded at Committee meetings, the members should simply remember that we have a very tight set of policies, especially for those most important areas, known as conservation areas, that have been carefully considered and agreed.
If a planning application comes in and we are being asked to set aside the agreed policies, there must be compelling reasons for doing so.
In almost every case, I hear Councillors saying that they think this or that case is an exception because “It’s a young family”, or “It would be good for business”, or “They rather like the design of the building” or “It would improve the look of the building”.
What these members don’t appreciate is that every time you decide to allow building against policy, you undermine policy and all the careful, detailed work that went into setting policies in the first place.
It’s very easy indeed to cast aside policy and treat it as a mere guideline.
You may even attract a few votes by so doing.
However, the price you pay is damage to the authority itself, in terms of consistent policy making.
It’s a triumph of selfishness over the wider community interest.