Planning in the media

The release of another government transport strategy was greeted with cynicism.

As The Times noted, the past decade has seen former deputy prime minister John Prescott's "integrated transport policy", the ten-year transport plan, Lord Birt's blue-sky thinking and white papers on aviation and rail as well as reports by Sir Nicholas Stern and Rod Eddington. "The highlight of the latest blueprint from the Department for Transport is a flowchart - much loved by the consulting classes - showing how the next batch of projects will be decided on," said transport editor David Millward. "Packed with new Labour phrases such as 'stakeholder dialogue' and 'stakeholder engagement', the blunt message is not to expect any concrete ideas until 2012."

The Independent was unimpressed that the strategy looks forward to "increased road, rail and air travel". The transport paper "puts the economy before the environment", it added, noting that it lists economic growth as "goal one" while the fight against climate change is "goal two".

BBC2's The Truth about Property made a genuine attempt to explain the housing crisis. RTPI policy adviser Kelvin MacDonald pointed out that government housing targets have to be squared with EU environmental policies, the concerns of nimbies and how much development councils can accommodate. The programme featured those who are losing out, such as a single man from Basingstoke who expects to be on the housing waiting list for up to ten years and a struggling family who cannot afford a housing association property because it would involve swapping a monthly rent of £415 for mortgage payments and outgoings of more than £1,200.

Channel 4's Dispatches also gave a depressing picture of the house price boom by following first-time buyers as they struggled against hot spots, the crisis in consumer lending caused by the international credit crunch and buy-to-let investors.

Older generations hold the key to today's waste crisis, according to Joan Bakewell in The Independent. "With resources to keep us fed, clothed and housed under increasing pressure, young people addicted to weekend shopping for things they do not need and advertising urging us to buy and throw away, we need a totally different mindset about how we deal with all the stuff around us. Those who grew up during the last war were schooled never to throw anything away. Our time has come again."


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