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Lee Mallett: 'Planning and politics rarely mix happily'

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Ahead of next week’s debate The Politics of Planning, director of Urbik Lee Mallett explains why planning is a ‘minefield for politicians’

Does planning and politics mix happily?
No they don’t - or only rarely, chiefly because their timetables are so different. Also politicians seek to control planning for populist reasons - hence London’s shortage of houses. 

Out of all the parties, who has the clearest vision for the planning system?
No idea! Given the importance of planning as the key tool governing the market, you would expect a clearer presentation of this issue. Basically they all hate it at the moment.
It is a minefield for politicians which they assiduously avoid. The Big Society has hit the wall of under-funded neighbourhood planning.

What one thing would you ask the next government to do for the planning system?
Spend money restoring the skills, role and status of planning without giving too much power to the state.

What do you think of the current coalition government’s shake-up of the planning system?
The NPPF is a good thing. Neighbourhood planning could be a good thing. What’s not working is the beneficial identification of opportunities for growth. There are not enough resources nor the appetite/incentive to do that.

What do you think the coalition’s biggest success has been with regards the built environment?
Restoration of economic growth, deregulation and the Localism Act giving local government more autonomy - this will be fundamental to future UK growth.
Austerity is finally forcing local authorities to deal with their built environment assets properly. This will release billions and drive new growth.

What has been the coalition’s biggest mistake?
Assuming neighbourhood planning will work without resource. Not allowing local government to charge realistic rates for planning permission.

Is the planning system ‘in a better place’ than it was say five years ago?
Possibly, but it could be so much better with a change in attitude and resource to make it more proactive. 

Lee Mallett, editor City Planning, Westminster Planning, joint editor Planning in London

Event:

Politics of Planning: National Planning Forum & Cambridge University Land Society - 26 February 2015

1.30pm for 2.00pm followed by a drinks reception
Hosted by: Dentons at One Fleet Place, London, EC4M (see attached pdf for more inforamtion)

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