Planning in the Media

Sometimes it takes a while for political correspondents to catch up with news from the planning sector.

With much fanfare, The Independent discovered last week that a future Conservative government would abolish the Infrastructure Planning Commission, with the relevant secretary of state taking the final decision. These are stories that have featured heavily in Planning since February.

BBC1's Politics Show covered forthcoming government plans to use the planning system to stop the spread of "student ghettoes". Reporting from Headingley in Leeds, where the majority of the population are students, resident Richard Tyler said the problems come on two levels: "You have the obvious problems of noise, waste and squalor but underneath is the utter disruption of communities." Under the government's plans, a property rented to three unrelated adults would be defined as a house in multiple occupation, forcing landlords to seek planning consent. But Paul Gott from the National Landlords Association warned that the vast majority of landlords own one or two properties. "The unintended consequences of extending the requirement would encompass far more landlords," he told the programme.

Culture secretary Ben Bradshaw is unhappy with the intervention by Prince Charles in the designs for redeveloping Chelsea Barracks, which prompted the proponents to withdraw their plans. "If it were the case that an intervention by any one individual had scuppered a promising project, which would have had massive regeneration potential and provided affordable housing for Londoners, that would be a great pity," Bradshaw told The Sunday Telegraph.

Developer Hab Oakus, headed by TV presenter Kevin McCloud, recently won permission for its first project, The Triangle, to build 42 affordable and ecological homes in Swindon. But writing in The Times McCloud revealed that the experience has been anything but plain sailing. Hab Oakus has "flirted with a succession of developer partners, is on its second architect's practice, its second engineering firm and its third site," he admitted. "We have invested hundreds of thousands of pounds in designs, people and research. Our first project will hardly break even. I can think of more enjoyable ways to waste money - like setting fire to it."

BBC1's Countryfile reported on the threat posed to the green belt by targets for up to 70,000 homes a year. Presenter John Craven heard how local people campaigned in vain against a 1,200-home scheme at Sharphill, Edwalton. But Town and Country Planning Association chief executive Gideon Amos told the programme that any idea of the green belt as sacrosanct is wrong. "We have to find ways of integrating the environment we live in with the development we must live with. The person who most wants to look out at green space is the one who moved into the last house on the green space. There are more families going to want that."

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