Do Or Die [In a Ditch]

The Weekly Newgate Engage Planning Blog

By David Scane

There is an urban legend that in a major city you are never more than 6 feet away from a rat at any given time. For the past month the same has felt true of the Government’s “Get Ready for Brexit” posters. 

These adverts, part of a £100m Government campaign, have adorned billboards, social media feeds, newspapers, bus stops, and every conceivable free space all over the country, to make it very clear that on that date we would have left the EU “do or die [in a ditch]”. 

Well, it turns out that the strategy of “say something often enough that it’ll have to come true” doesn’t actually work, and on 1st November the United Kingdom has woken up with our EU membership still intact. 

So what of that sizeable cost? £100m is still an enormous amount– even in an era when Harry Maguire costs £80m – and this money could surely have been spent on hundreds of other more worthy causes.

Take the following for example; between 2010 and 2015 London councils had their planning and development budgets slashed by a very similar amount to what the Government just spent in the past month on the Brexit advertising campaign (£110m). Councils have been forced to make these cuts to what are deemed ‘non-essential’ services in an era when their grants have been massively reduced.

For a Government that talks of the need for hundreds of thousands of new homes every year, and regularly introduces changes to the planning system to try and facilitate this, these huge cuts to Council budgets are counterproductive. You can introduce as many changes to the planning system as you like, but the reality is that if Council departments aren’t properly funded then these new homes will get held up in the system.

Now that the 31st October has past we can now look forward to another  General Election that will definitely sort out Brexit this time, and the inevitable “Get Ready for Brexit on 31st January” advertising campaign that’ll kick off in the New Year.  

This week in Planning.

Could Robert Jenrick be about to determine his first Local Plan?

The housing secretary is serious in his threat to take over consideration of a long-emerging local plan if a newly-elected council administration decides to withdraw it, say commentators.

Record number of Councils releasing Green Belt in Local Plans

New government figures show that record numbers of local authorities are turning to green belt release in their local plans.

Grenfell Inquiry Report

The Grenfell Tower Inquiry’s Phase 1 report was published on Wednesday morning. The report focusses on the London Fire Brigade (LFB)’s response, concluding that the LFB was ‘gravely inadequate’ in its preparations. It also strongly condemns the Brigade’s ‘stay put’ advice issued to the tower’s residents.

Thamesmead development news

Housing association Peabody and developer Lendlease have formed a 50:50 joint venture to deliver a 250 acre regeneration scheme in Thamesmead worth up to £8bn. Marking the largest development every worked on by Peabody, the project will see the construction of 11,500 new homes as well as new cultural, community and commercial space over the next 3 decades.

A boost for build to rent

The British Property Foundation has published a paper which has found that the number of build to rent homes which are being planned, built or finished in the UK has grown by 20% in the last year. This translates to nearly 150,000 new homes, with 50% constructed in the capital.   

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