A healthy mix of optimism and cynicism characterises the views of our experts on the reforms to planning announced in the Queen’s speech.
All the time Thames Tap has been running, all manner of professionals have told us of their frustrations. Reforms have come and gone over the years but now it would seem the most radical yet are on the horizon to try to lift some of the barriers to development.
But the Government is in a very strange position. On the one hand ministers want to free up the process while, at the same time, imposing ever more restrictions around everything from essential fire safety to energy consumption and protecting the homes of newts and bats.
The Build Back Better mantra could easily be an excuse for the Government to do as it pleases but it can’t please everyone. And what are we actually building back? Covid didn’t knock any buildings down. And who decides the definition of ‘better’?
Last year, radical plans for cycle lanes and one-way systems, along with low traffic neighbourhoods, were imposed with little thought for the consequences and many have been scrapped. Let’s hope whatever is imposed is at least better considered.
One reform many have wanted over the years is a rethinking of the Green Belt. But those cries don’t seem to have gained much political favour and so the lack of space for industrial development looks unlikely to be resolved.
Whatever the detail in the reforms turns out to be, the only certainty is that not everyone will be happy.
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