Taking housing out of electioneering

Even if we weren’t in the run up to an election (aren’t we always?) the tricky on-going issue of housing is never far away. It certainly is a potential seat winner/loser and boy do most councillor’s know it.

It appears that some people still view meeting the basic needs of human beings – such as housing – as something other-worldly. For us Planning Officers it can be troublesome to meet the requirements of some councillors and the pressure placed upon them by some resident groups. We are often asked to go round one more time to see if we can make the numbers even smaller to seemingly match the needs of the (often angry) protesters; ignoring the requirements of the silent majority. It may be a few thousand, but it will still be a small proportion of the population of the authority area.

So what can we, the humble planners, do? Firstly, I think we need to get residents to realise that no matter who you vote for, more houses are coming your way. Of course, this could be expensive, but it would be wonderful if every council put out some information, aimed at taking the debate about housing numbers off the election table. To send the evidence, in a very short message, to everyone.

I’m not talking about the possibility of converting NIMBYists into yay sayers, but if everyone who stands for election had to acknowledge the housing facts, then that would be one huge obstacle out of the way when it comes to making decisions on the plan. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy of an argument, so let’s get rid of it. If you can’t promise that there will be no more housing, then you can’t be elected to ‘deliver’ no more housing.

How realistic is it to promise to stop housing in an area? And why should stopping it be seen as a good thing anyway? This is a huge topic, so come and debate with me, and more importantly, have your genuine concerns about OAN and the 5-year land supply discussed in a friendly open forum, at one of the forthcoming PAS events.

11 September – London
17 September – Birmingham
23 September – Leeds
25 September – Bristol
2 October – Manchester

For more info and to book, visit the PAS website (http://www.pas.gov.uk/web/pas-test-site/events/-/journal_content/56/332612/6382842/ARTICLE#sthash.1MMjrUOw.dpuf)

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