Thursday 21 June 2012

Planning, Democracy and Law

There have been several eruptions of democratic outrage recently over "undesirable" successful planning applications. Letters to the papers, councillors expressing disgust and everyone feeling let down by the "democratic failures" of the planning system - how did this dreadful application get passed when we all objected to it?

My layman's understanding of planning law is that it is not a democratic system, it is not intended to be a democratic system and, in my opinion, it should not be a democratic system. Crudely put, planning law says that anyone can build or alter anything they want, unless the development would break a rule.

It isn't democracy that gives us what we want, it's the rule of law - as opposed to rule by tyrant.

Thank goodness I don't need permission from my neighbours, still less any councillors, to do what I want. I can just decide what I want to do and do it as long as I don't break the law. Of course it's in my best interests not to upset my neighbours but I don't actually have to ask their permission, it's my decision.

Yes, but that's outrageous - I don't want my neighbour building a block of flats in his back garden, how do I stop it? The short answer is: help develop the Kingsley Parish Plan.

Parish Plans can help form part of "the rules" that planning applications must comply with. It's no use waiting until someone wants to build a factory on Kingsley Common and then whining and getting up letters to the planning committee, they won't be able to do anything about it, it'll be too late.

The Parish Plan isn't only concerned with the planning system though; many other aspects of government and plain old life itself fall within the scope of the plan. Maybe you don't like having 40 tonne articulated lorries passing through the village; the Parish Plan can influence that in ways that you as an individual can't.

Our Parish Plan has been a long time coming; I was involved in its precursor, the village appraisal, ten years ago. A milestone was reached recently when the results of last year's questionnaire were presented at the Annual Parish Meeting.

If you want to influence what can and can't be done around here, now is the time to do it.

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