Reading the Times over the weekend, I remembered why I don’t read newspapers as much as I used to – talk about bringing stress and unease to a Sunday morning!
It was particularly stressful because this weekend saw a co-ordinated attack on the National Planning Policy Framework (see here for more on the NPPF). If I give you the headlines, you’ll get a sense of the hysteria that ‘middle England’ is experiencing over the new planning laws. “Throwing the Countryside to the Developer Wolves’ was one; the other, presumably in the context of last week’s riots, was the equally wholesome: “Stop the Real Vandals Ruining our Towns’.
Makes the blood boil, doesn’t it? The latter piece, by the well-known comedian Griff Rhys Jones, went on to say “If we introduce a presumption in favour of development, effectively we are saying ‘Build on the lot.’ Develop until we all sit on quarter-acre plots, live in Auckland, New Zealand (an endless tacky suburb). Build until we have houses in every field.”
He continues to claim that the development will mean Leytonstone reaches Chelmsford. The writer of the other piece claims, rather excitedly, “Builders want to link Gloucester to Cheltenham and Cheltenham to Worcester in a giant megalopolis.”
As someone who would probably end up in this giant megalopolis, I’ll believe it when I see it.
These two articles, I suspect, are only the tip of the iceberg of a media hysteria about how the shake-up in planning laws will impact on the country. They are, of course, completely wide of the mark, but play right into the hands of the people who I suspect are behind them – the protect-my-pile preservationists who want all new homes to be tiny, urban flats when they, of course, live in presumably ample piles. Their attitude is the problem – not the planning changes they seek to stop.