Swallowed up

The news that the Government has delayed implementation of the Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) requirements of the 2021 Environment Act prompted the posting of the blog below, which I had recently written mainly for myself, to clarify and formalise some of my thoughts. For many developments, the delayed implementation is only three months, but Nationally Significant Infrastructure Developments (NSIPs) won’t […]

Just the future of civilisation. No pressure then.

In September 2023, two United Nations agencies published a report which is crucial to the future of both human civilisation and nature on this planet. It received precious little publicity. Synergy Solutions for a World in Crisis proposed we should make a start on tackling both climate goals and the UN’s 15-year old Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) together. Both climate […]

Later than we think?

Any aspiring author seeking a title for their book should take inspiration from the portrait of the 1930s by the broadcaster and journalist René Cutforth. His was a broad view of the decade, though one written from the perspective of someone who saw it end in disaster and war. He called it Later Than We Thought. I’m starting to wonder […]

Dysfunctional markets, propaganda & Goodhart’s Law

Dysfunctional Markets:  It would be inaccurate, and wrong, to bundle all land owners, developers and their consultants into the same basket accusation of entirely selfish motives. However, when it comes to the housing market, the development sector has for many years successfully appropriated the widely accepted shortage of suitable housing to advance their own interests and maximise their profits. Fair […]

But which is the real Michael Gove?

Michael Gove began his keynote speech on housing this week with a reminder. “Housing policy – the building of new homes, the stewardship of existing properties, the planning of our towns, the fundamental landscape of our lives – requires long-term thinking,” he said. “And a long-term plan.” Which is ironic when you think about it, given that this Parliament has […]

More green belt blues

While the rest of the world looks on in horror at the gathering climate, nature, food, water, economic and security challenges, Britain’s house builders at least must be purring at their ability to sucker the nation’s senior politicians. Michael Gove has talked the talk about softening English national planning policies which basically promote car-dependent-sprawl at the expense of both the […]

The Arc is dead, but beware of the PaRP

The Oxford-Cambridge Arc is dead but, like any good horror-movie monster, it refuses to stay dead. Although the Arc was finally killed off last year, for very good reasons, it has recently re-emerged as the “Oxford to Cambridge Pan-Regional Partnership”. It’s complete with the same old slew of secrecy, millions of pounds of public money to waste on consultants, unsustainable […]

It’s politics, but not as we know it

People are saying it – our politics are getting stranger all the time. One of the many attractive features of the Smart Growth philosophy has always been its ability to attract support from thoughtful people across the political spectrum. Now it looks increasingly as if the need to rise beyond the hurly-burly of party politics is getting more urgent. To […]

HS2: The time for simple binary decision-making is past- it needs an independent review

Unless the Chancellor has something up his sleeve for next Wednesday’s Budget, it looks as the Government is “deferring” a lot of big spending on HS2 for at least a couple more years. To judge from the Transport Secretary’s statement, some big decisions have also been deferred, presumably until after the next general election. This would, therefore, seem an opportune […]

Frameworks and functions

The Royal Society report Multifunctional Landscapes – Informing a Long-Term Vision for Managing the UK’s Land poses some important questions. There is much to admire in it. Its admirably concise Executive Summary – just four paragraphs to introduce a 66-page report – includes a statement that should be tattooed on everybody in Whitehall and the devolved administrations. And held up […]