‘Simplified planning’ will lead to catastrophic developments

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From: Arthur Quarmby, Underhill, Holme, Holmfirth, West Yorkshire.

WHAT a load of rubbish Keith Boyfield writes (Yorkshire Post, May 18) – how does such a man come to be appointed Research Fellow of the Centre for Policy Studies?

Planning controls have generated a discrepancy in demand between farmland and land scheduled for business or housing. Land for housing is consequently worth far more than even the best farmland, he says. So far so good – we all know that.

But his solution is “Simplified Planning”, which in essence seems to be Crowley’s old dictum “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law” – also known as the Government’s “presumption in favour of development”.

He expects that such liberty will result in developers building new garden cities. But any and every developer will choose to minimise costs and maximise profits and that means a preference for housing sites which are cheap to develop, ideally alongside existing roads or if not alongside then in the fields beside the roads. Generating just the sort of catastrophic urban conurbation and ribbon development which planning legislation was brought in to prevent.

To persuade developers instead to build extremely expensive garden cities will demand far, far more stringent planning controls than any we have ever yet had.

From: Nigel F Boddy, Fife Road, Darlington.

THIS Government’s proposed relaxation of the planning laws is a mistake because it is coming at exactly the wrong time. Property values in provincial Britain are underpinned by our restrictive planning laws keeping the price of building land high. Banks and building societies for generations have acted in the expectation that building land will remain scarce and property prices will continue to rise.

Surely the value of existing property is inevitably going to fall if we relax planning laws? Certainly that must be true outside London and the South East. Is this what our high street banks need right now, to see a fall in the value of property on which they hold mortgages? If building land is suddenly no longer scarce our high street banks will be on even more shaky ground (literally) than before. Is that what we want right now?

I urge the Government to think again. This Government proposal will radically change the towns and landscape too, allowing all kinds of inappropriate development. Their short-sighted proposals are not in the long term interest of Britain and may even cause a further financial crisis.

From: Ann Petherick, Scarcroft Hill, York.

THERE are many comments which could be made in response to Keith Boyfield’s column about housing policy (Yorkshire Post, May 18) but, as the founder of the national ‘Living over the shop’ initiative, I will confine myself to just one.

He tells us that “there is simply not sufficient brownfield land to meet the needs of our population”. He may well be right, but as an argument against “brownfield first”, and existing buildings first, it fails.

From: Max Nottingham, St Faith’s Street, Lincoln.

PROFESSOR Laurie Taylor on Radio 4’s Thinking Aloud programme recently did a piece on the growth of gated property sites in England.

It is a new trend in which rich people create fenced-off sites so they can live alongside well-heeled neighbours.

They even put up CCTV cameras (do the police have to make an appointment to speak with them?) In a way, the gated ones are avoiding the rough edges of society in their own country, namely working class people, the poor and under privileged.

The gated community phenomenon is arguably a by-product of the enormous divisions between rich and poor in England. The gap is growing under the coalition.