Diary: Reading Council to pave paradise?

The work of singer Joni Mitchell may not immediately spring to mind as an obvious material consideration for a planning application.

But a committee meeting in Berkshire was treated to a snippet of Mitchell's music last month. Linda Trenchard, who was voicing opposition to the loss of a field for a proposed 280-space park and ride at Thames Valley Park, recited an amended verse of Mitchell's 1970 classic Big Yellow Taxi to express her views. "Hey Reading Council, I'm worried about your MRT (Mass Rapid Transport)," she sang. "You care about the buses but what of our community?" A round of applause followed, but it wasn't enough to persuade the council to oppose the scheme. Nevertheless, Diary feels that Mitchell's original lyrics for the song could provide a clarion call for objectors across the country.

A different, but equally ingenious tactic, is being used by some protesters against controversial developments, it was alleged by one member of the House of Lords this week. Lord Borwick, chairman of housebuilder Countryside Properties and a Tory peer, said in a parliamentary housing debate that environmentalists have adopted the tactic of planting colonies of great crested newts at proposed development sites. Borwick suggested that rethinking the protection given to the creatures could be one "quick win" to aid housing delivery.

Could there be a colony of newts in the communities secretary's office? Labour MP John Mann, in a Commons debate on the Neighbourhood Planning Bill, last week labelled communities minister Sajid Javid as the "king of the nimbys". Mann recalled that Javid had previously objected to a proposed housing allocation for 2,000 homes in his Bromsgrove constituency. "He has been the greatest of all the nimbys in the House," said Mann.


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