The Guardian’s Simon Jenkins has written a scathing critique of Boris Johnson’s planned overhaul of the UK’s planning system, which of course reads to me like a love letter.
Some notable excerpts:
“The most extraordinary upheaval in modern British government is to be introduced this week by Boris Johnson. He is, in effect, to end planning permission. Local councils and those they represent are to be stripped of control over new buildings, to be replaced by central government ‘zoning’ commissions.”
“The proposed reform will release building rights anywhere outside existing national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty.”
“Under new rules the ‘zoning’ commissioner will merely have to designate land as developable, whereupon owners can legal do what they like.”
“But this reform is of a new order. It cancels the democratic right of people to exercise some control over their immediate surroundings, over the character and appearance of their neighbourhood.”
Sounds too good to be true, right? I’m cautiously optimistic that it’s not.
If Boris Johnson can pull this off, he’ll set a major precedent for the western world, where the problem of nimbyism is most pronounced.
Overly restrictive land use rules harm lower income families through higher housing prices, damage the environment through exacerbated urban sprawl, and stifle economic growth by limiting the potential of cities and their economies of agglomeration.
I’m very pleased to see a high status politician — and a Tory no less! — address them directly.