David Mitchell on planning reforms…

pound shed closing down

You know planning reforms are definitely hitting the news when they come to the attention of  observational comedians. David Mitchell wrote an interesting article in yesterday’s Observer about the possible impact of a proposed relaxation of planning regulations primarily concerning changes of use on our town and city centres.

Is planning really to blame for the malaise on British High Streets and can it possibly provide a solution? Does planning protect our retail centres or does it merely play in to the hand of developers and create artificial ‘retail only’ environments in towns? Could a relaxation of planning regulations make town centres more flexible and more responsive to the needs of their communities?

Whatever your views, David Mitchell’s observations are well worth a read, find them online here.

(cartoon by David Foldari via The Observer)

More community planning resources

“If you want to know how the shoe fits, asks the person who is wearing it, not the person who made it…” (communityplanning.net)

 

I’ve had some really interesting conversations about community planning this week. I believe it is very important that all communities are encouraged use the tools available to them, to reduce them being used solely for political posturing or just given lip service by developers and decision makers. I thought I would share a couple of very useful links:

CommunityPlanning.net   is a fantastic resource from, amongst others, the Department for Communities and Local Government and the Royal Town Planning Institute (or RTPI, the chartered professional body of planners). Particularly useful pages are a good overview on policy and legislation on community planning in the UK (interesting the site also provides overviews for the Czech Republic, Italy and Slovakia). There is a rather detailed A-Z section on sources and mechanisms for funding for community-led neighbourhood projects. And I found the section on low carbon communities particularly interesting.

If you are in England (outside of London)   Planning Aid England   is run by the RTPI and can give you 15 minutes of  free advice from a chartered town planner and then assess if you are eligible for any further free assistance. Their site includes short guides to aspects of the planning system and a jargon busting section. But the section on Neighbourhood Planning is quite comprehensive (I found the list of where Neighbourhood Plans are currently being developed particularly interested, especially after my post written last year). There are also sites for Planning Aid London (a separate charity run organisation to Planning Aid England), Planning Aid for Scotland and Planning Aid Wales.

 

If you know of any other useful sites, please let me know and I’ll also add to this list as I find them.

A303: Highway to the Sun

Originally posted 2nd October 2012

nLast night one of my favourite documentaries was shown again on BBC4 – A303: Highway to the Sun.

A documentary about the road between Basingstoke and Honiton, you may think? But the beautiful thing about this documentary is that it goes much deeper than the tarmac and white lines, used everyday as a route to the West Country. It is a fascinating landscape study and cultural history of the area the road travels through, showing that roads are much more than highways but are also an important part of place-making.

If you have a spare hour, do give it a look. It is beautiful made and one of those slightly eccentric documentaries that make you grateful that we have a national broadcaster that is willing to make things like this. You can find it on the BBC iPlayer, for the next seven days, here or I have also found it uploaded on Vimeo here.

Enjoy.