Planning 'needs to become cool again'

A call to 'make town planning cool again' features in today's newspaper round-up.

The Guardian runs an article by the author of a novel centred on a town planner in a London borough which says that "while the cult of the star architect has soared in recent decades, the figure of the town planner has arguably become comic shorthand for a faceless dullard". The piece, by Tom Campbell, calls for a "much greater role for people in planning". It says: "If cities such as London are going to thrive from globalisation, channelling funds into affordable housing, public infrastructure and civic spaces, it is planners who must go into battle on our behalf – democratically empowered; confident in their ability to negotiate firmly with private capital. In today’s world, the idea of a quarter of a million people going out to buy a book on town planning seems unlikely, to say the least. But if we care for our cities, it’s surely time to take more interest in what it is planners actually do".

The Financial Times (subscription required) reports that "England’s councils have built up extra reserves of £2.3 billion in the past financial year despite the coalition’s austerity programme that has seen cuts bite hard into services such as libraries, parks and planning offices". The paper says that before the last financial year, "England’s 444 local authorities predicted that they would have to eat into their savings by a total of £1.2 billion. Instead they increased their total reserves by £2.3 billion to a total of £23.7 billion in the 12 months to April, according to data from the Department of Communities and Local Government".

The Telegraph reports that deputy prime minister Nick Clegg has suggested that new garden cities could be built between Oxford and Cambridge. The newspaper says, speaking yesterday, Clegg said: "I have been pushing, very vigorously, about the virtue of creating garden cities, particularly in that arc of the country between Oxford and Cambridge where lots of people want to be able to work and raise families and commute to work, but there simply isn’t enough housing".

The Telegraph reports that "leading academics" have warned that shale gas fracking firms "must be allowed to cause far more significant earth tremors if the government wants the shale gas industry to succeed". The newspaper says that "current regulations, imposed two years ago, are equivalent to banning buses from driving past houses or prohibiting the slamming of wooden doors, according to Dr Rob Westaway and professor Paul Younger, of the University of Glasgow's School of Engineering".

The Times (subscription required) reports that "plans for the first new grammar school in more than 20 years have been revived by England’s largest selective education authority". The newspaper says that Kent county council "has supported a bid for a selective school in Sevenoaks that would be a satellite of Weald of Kent grammar school in Tonbridge, nine miles away, and would admit 90 pupils a year". Planning permission has been granted for the site and Kent has up to £16 million to build the campus, the newspaper adds.


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