Has Lord Heseltine forgotten how planning system works?

It is astounding to me that so senior a politician as Lord Heseltine cannot see why consulting a planner in private practice will be different to consulting a planner working for a local authority in the ways he suggests his recent report as reported on in Planning last week. And why they cannot be the same.

Yes of course the private practice will send out a senior partner to ‘meet and greet’ a new client. Why? Because he will want to secure the work by giving the impression that he will be doing the job. The  reality? He will go back to the office and give the job to the office junior to increase the return to the business.

Yes, the local authority planner the client meets may be a junior officer. But as a qualified planner he/she will be just as able to advice as well as his senior colleagues. And yes his/her advice will be caveated- no matter how senior an officer he may be.

Has Lord Heseltine forgotten that the planning system works within a democracy and it is the elected members working through the planning committee that are the actual ‘planners’ in this system. Planning officers are only advisors. As a consequence, the planning officer needs to make the client clear that his advice may very well be put aside by his political employers  for  hopefully very good reasons- or not!

And for the very same reason any senior partner in private practice, even if he/she is the most senior partner, would be very foolish if they did not also point out the same possibility to a client.
Alan Murphy MRTPI

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