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Remember how the forests sell off was achieved by an alliance of anti-privatisation groups and Tory countryside lovers? The same alliance could come into play with the recent announced planning for deregulation of the planning system.
The coalition policy is contained with the draft National Planning Policy Framework released in July 2011. The key policy change at the heart of the document is ‘the presumption in favour of sustainable development’.
The non-controversial part of this is the word ‘sustainable’ which the framework says means preserving resources for future generations, taking into account economic, social and environmental considerations.
But the concern is whether this is meaningful, or honest, given the overriding concern of the government is growth and development. In effect, the word ‘sustainable’ equates with any new proposal for development. The politics are clear, the bottom lines of the development industry and business will prevail. And if local authorities and communities resist, lawyers for the developers will have a field day in court citing the ‘presumption’.
For a countryside in the South East which is mobilised against new housing this sounds like very bad news– and not what they elected a Tory/Lib Dem government for. As Camilla Cavendish wrote in the Times on 4 August: ‘Building in shires could demolish the Tory vote – relaxing planning rules to promote growth will cause an uproar that could dwarf the row over selling off forests.’
The NIMBYs are up in arms – and so are many other considered voices. The National Trust, CPRE, FoE and other groups are joining the clamour against the relaxation fearing building in the countryside which they had so relentlessly opposed when Labour was in office.
Thus the Tory-led growth programme for the South East looks very similar to the Labour one, albeit with more emphasis on business in distinction to Labour’s central government-imposed housing targets. In both cases local democracy gets short shrift.
Indeed, the framework runs straight up against the flagship Tory policy of localism. The localism voice sits uncomfortably with the presumption voice of government. How can you have local determination of planning schemes if the national policy is that there is a presumption in favour of giving planning permission – before the community has had its say? It makes no sense.
What should be the response of the left? In principle, we should support regulation of the land use planning system, but advocate going further to limit land prices and redistribute the benefits of high land values to poorer areas and to local communities. More housing in the South East is needed, particularly affordable housing. But the Tory market-led approach does not ensure balanced communities, affordable homes, decent design and environmental protection because of the presumption rule.
Thus, the need for an alliance to stop the white paper and to address the impasse between the NIMBYs and those who want to see a more socially just land, property and planning system.
Grace Blakeley investigates the curious case of Carillion: how the company’s slow decline and abrupt liquidation reveals the nature of modern capitalism.
The collapse of Carillion could be a watershed moment. Let's seize it to end economically disastrous outsourcing schemes. By Cat Hobbs.
Campaign groups highlight UK complicity in Saudi Arabia's human rights abuses.
Three founders of Momentum talk to Ashish Ghadiali about the two years that have transformed their lives and the fortunes of the British left.
Andrew Smith from Campaign Against the Arms Trade gives the run-down on one of the UK's most profitable - and most deadly - industries.
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Javier Pérez De La Cruz writes about the working class Berlin neighbourhood wrung dry by gentrifiers.
Across the world, thousands of protesters are taking on the planet’s biggest fossil fuel companies. We should support them – and if we can, we should join them. By Kara Moses
Students are suffering the effects of financial instability, stress, and slashed mental health services. Mark Crawford reports.
They're not defending free speech - they're just seeking to shore up their own power, writes Ilyas Nagdee
Jeremy Hunt is poised to flog the last of the NHS
Peter Roderick sounds the alarm on an 'attack on the fundamental principles of the NHS'.
Viva Siva, 1923-2018
A. Sivanandan, who died this week, was a hugely important figure in the politics of race and class. As part of our tributes, Red Pepper is republishing this 2009 profile of him by Arun Kundnani
Sivanandan: When memory forgets a giant
Daniel Renwick calls for the whole movement to discover and remember the vital work of A. Sivanandan, who died this week
A master-work of graphic satire
American Jewish cartoonist Eli Valley’s comic commentary on America, the US Jewish diaspora and Israel is nothing if not near the knuckle, Richard Kuper writes
Meet the frontline activists facing down the global mining industry
Activists are defending land, life and water from the global mining industry. Tatiana Garavito, Sebastian Ordoñez and Hannibal Rhoades investigate.
Transition or succession? Zimbabwe’s future looks uncertain
The fall of Mugabe doesn't necessarily spell freedom for the people of Zimbabwe, writes Farai Maguwu
Don’t let Corbyn’s opponents sneak onto the Labour NEC
Labour’s powerful governing body is being targeted by forces that still want to strangle Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, writes Alex Nunns