The planning white paper is a poke in the eye for localism

Philip Corthorne

Government needs to let local authorities do their job and engage with their communities, says Curtin&Co director and councillor Philip Corthorne

As a newly elected councillor the best part of 30 years ago, some of my earliest forays on the public stage were on planning matters, opposing development almost as a default position and always fiercely in defence of the green belt. After all, it played well on the doorsteps, and getting re-elected was what counted wasn’t it?

Many of us of a certain age now with adult children, have been on something of a journey in terms of becoming reconciled to the need for development and some of the politically difficult decision making needed locally to make this happen. Not simply paying lip service to this need as long as it’s not in the proverbial back yard. After all, if our kids end up having to live 150 miles away, it’s as much as an issue for us as it is them, it erodes the network of family support for our children that we were grateful for ourselves as young adults raising families. Dare I say we will want it too in return as we all get older!

Local, of course, being the operative word. As elected councillors we are mandated with a place-shaping role in ensuring that the development that takes place fits with local aspirations and need. This is a core component of the Localism Act 2011. I believe most councillors are ready and willing to accept and fulfil that responsibility given the opportunity, and without the intervention of the heavy hand of government.

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