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Democracy requires a prerequisite knowledge


The Twentieth Century Society is not opposed to democracy (Astragal, 27.2.03). The point that was being made was that the way that the current planning system works in practice leaves a lot to be desired, with decisions being made by councillors, many of whom are lamentably ill-informed about planning processes, relevant government advice, or their own local plan policies and their relevance. This means that officers' recommendations are often overturned for no good reason, and insufficient notice is taken of other objectors' comments, including those of amenity societies.

On the whole, inspectors make better non-partial adjudicators, and this results in better decisions. There may be a place for policies to be overridden in exceptional cases, but at the moment this happens too frequently and for the wrong reasons. The desire our local politicians have to be liked, to be seen to be taking action and to get re-elected is sometimes impeding the planning process - perhaps the answer is better training for councillors.

Catherine Croft, director, the Twentieth Century Society, London

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