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Plan to limit comments miles off the mark


All of us, at some point, will have questioned the validity of negative comments on a planning application. As if that very vocal minority (you know the ones) have sent ‘23/P/1234/Full/OBJECTPLEASE’ to every person in their address book, including Auntie K who emigrated to The Iberian Peninsula eight years ago.

Which is why I commend the efforts of this group of councillors on the south coast, introducing a rule which only permits representations from those living within one mile of the site’s boundary to count towards forcing a planning committee decision.

Although the apparent intention of this is to limit spurious objections, the perverse consequence is that it will actually limit our ability to recruit supporters in ensuring an application reaches committee, despite it having an officer’s recommendation for refusal.

  • Those thirty-something, city-dwelling renters looking to get on the housing ladder and eventually start a family.
  • The newly-retired grandparents seeking to live closer to family to assist with childcare.
  • That family of six in desperate need of an extra bedroom, exploring more affordable locations.

It feels a little undemocratic to prohibit them from having their say, not to mention bad for the industry and the economy at large. One mile as well? That feels like one of those decisions made at 5pm on Friday.

Yeahhhhhh, it’ll do.

Shall we perhaps ponder population density instead? Just a thought…

All of this of course before we even consider non-residential development. Hotels, supermarkets, motorway service stations – purveyors of which live nowhere near them.

Logistics facilities, science parks, hospitals, schools – potential employers for those residing in all corners of the country. This policy feels incredibly short-sighted, perhaps arbitrary.

A cynic might even say it has an air of gerrymandering about it as if this is a mechanism borne with an intent to control planning even further.

I don’t believe the intentions to be quite so sinister, but rather the all-too-familiar story of a Local Authority lacking the strategic vision to consider the benefits of new development for all members of the community regardless of their geographic proximity; something more prevalent in an age of remote working.

Here’s hoping the idea becomes tomorrow’s chip paper much like lots of other policies we read about.

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