Charles Clover writing in the Sunday Times last weeks quoted Alan Bennett's views on the planning process in this country: “The planning process is and always has been weighted against objectors, who, even if they succeed in postponing a development, have to muster their forces afresh when the developer and architect come up with a slightly modified scheme. And so on and so on until the developer wins by a process of attrition.”
Charles Clover goes on to say: "Now I know there are lots of important folk who believe that most of the opposition to housing developments, wind farms, motorways and so on is misguided and bad for the economy and that it would be a mistake to give any more power to Nimbys. Yet I suspect even they like to think that the rules are fair and that there is some sanction when officials ignore them. At present, the only way to prove a planning application has been mishandled is to take out a judicial review, which is so expensive that it is an option for only the super-rich."
The government's new Localsim Bill will supposedly give communities greater control over what was appropriate development at the very beginning. As Clover says "people would have a right to object to things such as large housing developments at the time of the formation of a local plan - a very general statement that most people are unlikely to read. This is essentially the system we have already."
Clover continues "The Tories appeared to have been alarmed by a scare campaign by developers claiming that if local people had even a limited form of appeal against developments it would curb economic growth. It didn’t stop runaway growth in Ireland, where residents have had this right for years — or in New Zealand.
Having invented the whole concept of localism, the coalition has now undermined it. Does localism mean power to the people, which is what we thought when the coalition parties were in opposition, or does it mean power to local businessmen?
Residents don’t just need the right to say yes; they need the right to say no."
How right he is, when GNDP carried out their initial consultation it would probably be quite fair to say that the majority of people who even bothered to read the documentation probably thought that it would never happen here in Norfolk so there wasn't much point in bothering to go any further. There are STILL people who say "don't worry it will never happen" or " it has all gone away hasn't it?" Councils love us to think like that as it makes their work so much easier.
The last sentence on the home page of Building Partnerships' website says " A series of public consultations and presentations have been staged in and around Rackheath and the wider Norwich area." Broadland District Council's website mentions that they will be "taking into consideration the views of the public and technical bodies raised during the consultation process." It is all meaningless unless they actually take notice of what is being said and act accordingly. If the majority of the community don't want what is being planned then, sorry, they should work a bit harder and come up with another, more acceptable plan. When Broadland District Council voted to submit the Joint Core Strategy one of the councillors said he was voting for it as " we have been working on this for so long it is too late to turn back now." What rubbish, if you're driving on the motorway and realize you are going in the wrong direction you don't just carry on regardless, you make a 'u' turn - nothing wrong in that!