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Opinion : Are there problems with the way the town planning system works?

| July 5, 2020

As regular readers will know one of my great gripes in life is the way the town planning system works.

Introduced in 1947, the Town and Country Planning act was surely supposed to improve the way building and development is handled in the country. However in the view of my good self it is not producing the desired results.

Just look how High Wycombe town centre have been over developed into the monstrosity we see today while Marlow has remained untouched.

Just look at the way the factories of Wycombe have been demolished to make way for housing.

Now it seems another business in Wycombe is under threat from a planning application. You may have read the article that appeared in the news section of this site recently entitled ‘Plans to redevelop part of an industrial estate in High Wycombe may result in closure of local company‘.

It seems in this particular case the owners of a local industrial estate have submitted plans to redevelop part of their estate. However should the development go ahead it would mean a long established local business may end up in a situation where it may have to close with the loss of sixteen jobs.

I have it on good authority that policy in the Local plan for the (former) Wycombe District states that, for the particular type of business involved, a new site must be provided if development is granted. So far a new site has not yet been provided therefore the company would be forced to close and 16 jobs would be lost.

Considering the state of the economy at the moment, in my opinion it’s disgusting that a perfectly viable company should find themselves in such a position. Indeed surely everything should be done to protect every single job at the moment rather than ending up in a situation where people’s livelihoods are potentially put at risk and decent, hard working people find themselves consigned to the dole queues for no reason.

In this instance it appears the ‘planning system’ (and not the ‘planners’) may also be the issue as it seems all applications have to be considered and go through due process even if the outcome of the application may possibly contravene parts of the adopted Local Plans, etc….

Talking generally now and not referring to the specific planning application referred to so far, it amazes me that land owners can apparently submit planning applications that affect land currently being used by other companies that are still trading.

If land is vacant and not being used then all fair and good. If a commercial tenant is in situ and using the land legally then surely both parties should be required to be joint applicants to any major changes of planing permission affecting the land otherwise the situation can arise where a land user finds themselves having the ‘rug pulled from under their feet’ by the landowner?

When researching this blog yours truly happened to come across the website of a local planning authority in England which gives valid reasons for objections to planing permissions. You can view the link here.

To my amazement the loss of jobs is not on the list of valid objection reasons. Surely this is something that needs to be changed particularly in the current economic climate with a humdinger of a recession looming large on the horizon?

It seems that any land owner can submit a planning application in respect of their land for a decision by the planning authority. Surely applications that contravene a local plan, would otherwise be unacceptable or have low chance of success should be rejected immediately without going through the full application process?

What do you think?

My blogs are published regularly here on the WycombeToday.com website.

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