David Cameron made a brief allusion to planning today in his speech at the Conservative Party Conference, stating that those opposed to reform should ‘try their arguments on people at Job Centres’. Michael Gove also made a reference to planning, accusing campaigners opposed to the Government’s planning reforms of being more concerned about their “precious” lawns than jobs.
But both Cameron and Gove has spectacularly missed the point, failing to properly realise our stance on planning. Yes we want more jobs. And yes, we want development. But we do not feel that the draft NPPF has the potential to deliver this in a truly sustainable way.
David Cameron in his party conference speech, was scathing of our position but said that he was willing to listen to ‘constructive ideas’. Yet despite his rhetoric, he failed to acknowledge the manifesto published by us which lays out our ideas for a positive planning system, and he has also failed to come to talk with us about the issues, instead preffering to allow his Ministers to throw insults our way.
Scent does not often carry across the nation. But yesterday the whiff of fear in the Conservative conference hall at Manchester must have been detectable in Folkestone. Not merely this country but also Europe, and indeed the Western world, are storm-tossed upon economic billows that bewilder and alarm every national leader and central banker – and their peoples. In such weather, it was hard for David Cameron to mount his party platform against a brilliant blue sky background and command instant belief when he said: ‘There is far too much ‘can’t do’ sogginess about … Let’s see an optimistic future … Let us together lead Britain to better days ahead’.
Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, said that the Coalition was “on the side of jobs, not the nimbys” after David Cameron claimed that planning laws were frustrating growth. Referring to those who oppose developments near their homes, Mr Gove said: “When it comes to reforming planning laws in order to allow companies to expand, he [Mr Cameron] made it clear that he’s on the side of jobs, not the nimbys.”
Our spokesman responded with spokesman said: “This is so far from what these reforms are supposed to be about. We have got used to rudeness but we are not going to let it have any effect.”
Alison Henwood, in her letter to the Telegraph, highlights the threat posed by planning reforms to prime agricultural land especially in densely populated areas. 40% of our food is already imported, and the expansion onto agricultural land threatens to further reduce this self-sufficiency we have she argues. She went on to state that many people feel betrayed by the Government’s proposals and the manner in which they are being introduced.