New SHMA no better than wetting a finger and sticking it in the air

So much for “objectivity”.

The more I sat there and listened to the director of the GL Hearn planning consultancy trying to explain the numbers, the more I realised what a cosy little world exists between these highly rewarded professionals and the local planning authority [LPA] apparatchiks.  He claimed he had already appeared at, at least, four PINS public enquiries into submitted Local Plans in the last few months, so knew exactly what he was talking about.  However, when challenged on simple facts of the SHMA Guidance issued in 2007 concerning the types of stakeholders with which he was required to engage to inform his company’s consideration of the “objectively assessed” number of houses, he singularly failed. Continue reading

Letter writing is a dying art

Here I am, posting on the blog again, bemoaning the fact that nowadays letter writing is rare and hand-written letters more so.  Much easier the electronic media to share what you want others to know via e-mail, social media posts and blog posts, instant message, texting, voice messaging.  Not so in the “Whitehall bubble”.  When a minister or MP wants to make a point and give it the stamp of authority, the air of ‘realpolitik’, seeming sincerity and something aimed at ‘you’, they resort to writing a letter on House of Commons or departmental headed notepaper.  Well, they don’t actually write it, but they do top and tail it with an indecipherable scrawl, a bit like a prescription handed to you by your GP, a palliative given to shut you up and get you out of the surgery, so they can concentrate on the next case. Continue reading

Housebuilders v. DEFRA: no agreement over flood prevention measures

I would like to thank two of my neighbours in Normandy, that live in a very flood-prone part of the village, where one of the essential water meadows that has over the years provided some protection for their homes from the effects of flash flooding from agricultural run-off is now being concreted over with an affordable housing scheme, for drawing attention to the dispute over the implementation of SUDS schemes on new housing developments reported by the BBC on Friday 10 January “Today” programme. (Listen for comments at 06:35 and 07:51) Continue reading

Members of Parliament ‘get it’ as minister evades

In a debate in Westminster Hall a couple of days ago, David Heath MP led a consideration of the impact of the planning reforms introduced by the NPPF.  Most of the participating MPs came from north, north-west and south-west constituencies, many were Tories.  Not one from a Surrey constituency – don’t tell me, too busy on ministerial duties, too much under the influence of the whips office, don’t want to be members of the ‘awkward squad’. Continue reading