The Importance of Sound Planning Practices

sound planning - Leafy Lane
Leafy Lane

The public rarely take much interest in planning policies, procedures or decisions…. that is, until such time as they are directly affected by something happening on their doorstep.

Most Councillors will tell you that Planning Committee meetings are never attended by the public, unless there is something that is proposed to happen near them.

Every once in a while, the chamber is packed with people (usually objecting).

These meetings can be a real problem in that some people attend to vent their very strong feelings, but sometimes don’t follow the procedures for making a contribution, often don’t understand planning guidance or policies and get even more frustrated when a decision goes against their wishes.

I have previously been a member of the Town Council planning committee, the District Council Planning Committee and the New Forest National Park Planning Committee.

In all the years I have been involved, I haven’t noticed any “dodgy dealings” and would have immediately blown the whistle if I had.

That said, I am never complacent and I think only a fool believes that all authorities and all officers and Councillors are beyond reproach.

Developers can make millions of pounds profits, dependent on whether or not they get planning permission.

It is not unknown for secret bungs to be paid.

It’s rare in this country, but I have no doubt it has happened.

I know of several local links between landowners, developers and Councillors.

It isn’t an offence for Councillors or MP’s to accept money or employment from these organisations but it is an offence for them not to declare it in a register of Interests.

Perhaps I am alone in worrying about the failure of New Forest District Council to complete a Local Plan, that the Planning Inspectorate are happy with.

The organisations that benefit from this lapse are developers because they can simply put in an application to develop housing on land that hasn’t been allocated for that purpose and get a permission on the basis that the Council hasn’t been able to show that it has complied with a duty to provide the necessary supply of housing land.

If you are reluctant to believe me, simply examine what has happened at Loperwood, Calmore, Totton on green land that was never allocated as housing land.

There are other large housing developments in the district that may also fall to the developers, often without the necessary considerations given to impact on infrastructure, local facilities etc.

Some of the changes that have happened amongst the senior ranks of Planning Chiefs at the District Council in the last couple of years have been pretty mind-boggling, including very sudden announcements of departures, without credible reasons given.

I see it as part of my job to ask awkward questions and uncover truth in the public interest.

Maybe there is someone reading this who knows something I don’t about what’s been happening “behind the scenes”.

You can always contact me to share anything.

I will treat anything said or shared with me in confidence, if you wish.


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