Outside housing

Sir Keir Starmer has set out his plans for house building for Inside Housing magazine – a paper I used to write for. But I can’t help feeling that if I’d written such a confused and contradictory piece, I’d have been in real trouble with the editor. After a routine complaint about the difficulties young people have in buying a […]

For the many, not the few

General election campaigns are strange affairs, and occasionally politicians reveal more than they mean to. Labour’s current lead is so strong that few doubt the party will emerge without some kind of Commons majority, possibly an enormous one, and Sir Keir Starmer and his colleagues will be in charge of law-making. But given the way Sir Keir is already laying […]

Integrated action – the world needs it

When Smart Growth UK was set up, a key objective of the organisations that created it was to get integrated action across a range of planning, transport and regeneration issues. And that’s what we set out to do. Today, 17 years later, the need to integrate policy across these – and wider – policy areas is stronger than ever. Environmental […]

Progressive commissions and settlements

With the forthcoming general election still Labour’s to lose, there’s no shortage of advice for the party on what to spend its energy on if and when it wins power. Leading the pack, of course, is the Yimby Lobby, keen as ever to get planning abolished or, at least, reduced to nothing. Now it’s extending its attack to building control […]

Time to “defang” the propagandists?

A popular technique among propagandists is to take a single example of something, distort it, and then present it to those they wish to persuade as a disgraceful but typical example of something or somebody they wish to attack. It’s cheap, easy and mendacious. Commercial promoters have also long used the technique to big up the product or service they […]

Something to ruminate about

I was an early enthusiast for “rewilding” at a time few people had heard of it and vividly remember a reporting visit to the nascent Carrifran Wildwood project in southern Scotland 25 years ago – in a snowstorm. At that time the Carrifran valley was like most of the Moffat Hills – grazed into nothing much ecologically by sheep and […]

The value of matrimony

“Political change can itself introduce barriers in the operation of the planning system,” said the Royal Town Planning Institute’s latest State of the Profession report. Who knew? Local authority planners and politicians have had a long and turbulent marriage ever since the 1947 Act took them to an austerity registry office wedding. Now, after three-quarters of a century of bickering, […]

An “inflection point”

Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves rounded off yesterday’s Mais Lecture by saying that, as in the late 1970s, we stand at an inflection point. Her speech made a case for widespread reform – to stimulate investment, remove barriers to productivity, fashion a new economic settlement and create growth that is broad-based, inclusive and resilient. OK, that all sounds good, though a […]

Three cheers? Maybe not

I think it was Voltaire who said that the odd thing about the “Holy Roman Empire” was that it was none of those three things. Much the same could have been said about New Labour’s 2003 “Sustainable Communities Plan” which began an ill-planned demolition of its own work on the urban renaissance and attempts to create sustainable communities. Much the […]

The food fight

“Do you not eat?” NFU president Minette Batters recently flashed back at wildlife campaigner Mark Avery after he criticised farming’s record on protecting nature. The exchange took place on what used to be called Twitter, but which now, in its musky X-rated dotage, is rapidly descending into an international shouting match. Yet I reflected they’re both right, in a sense, […]