Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Localism, not anarchy

I'm happy to take up the challenge set by Nick Drew over at C@W - the thorny issue of planning permission and localism. Nick cites the case of a London faith community seeking to take advantage of the government's initiative to localise planning decisions, as they feel the existing planning authority are acting unreasonably in refusing their applications to build faith schools and house extensions to house their large families. No, it's not Muslims in Newham or Tower Hamlets - it's ultra-Orthodox Jews in Stamford Hill. If local councils lose control of planning, the theme goes, what will we end up with?

OK. Firstly Localism is about devolving collective administrative functions down to their most appropriate level; it doesn't mean everything has to be at the neighbourhood level. Defence and air traffic control can only be done nationally. Minerals planning may best be done on a regional, geological, scale. State education planning may work best at the County level. However, asking the Secretary of State to rule on replacement glazing or front-door colours in conservation areas is clearly inappropriate. So we need to agree criteria about how far to devolve.

The regulation of built development is only legitimate so long as its necessary for the common good. We have Building Regs to ensure structures don't collapse or go up in flames like BBQ fuel, and planning rules originating on Public Health grounds to ensure people don't build unduly crowded, insanitary, disease-liable rookeries; there are standards for maximum bed spaces per acre to stop the Rahmans of this world erecting instant slum tenements, and a whole range of rules to constrain the negative externalities of inappropriate development. There are some alternatives. If we stop people building on their gardens because it reduces permeable ground and places additional costs on the rest of us to deal with their rainwater, we can always pass on the entire marginal cost instead. Yes, you can build on your garden, but it will cost you an additional £500 a square metre in Council Tax each year. And Yes, you can build a house without any parking space - but you must pay an additional fee of £20,000 for the road congestion that you will cause. 

The problem with communities such as the Stamford Hill Jews is that they are seeking to impose all the negative externalities of creating a dense, crowded religious shtetl on the rest of us without meeting the cost. That's not localism - it's anarchy; 'gaming' the planning reforms isn't localism - it's asocialism. Either there's a robust framework of rules that allocates the full cost of development back to the developer, or decisions need to be taken at the lowest level at which decisions can properly be made on behalf of all those affected - and that's not the Rabbi and his mates.    


Edward Spalton said...

The pressure to expand the built environment is largely the product of massive immigration, deliberately encouraged by government, intent on "electing a new people". That was Labour, of course, but Cameron will not effect the necessary reversal. He claims a reduction as a victory. That is like saying that inflation has gone down - i.e. is continuing at a slightly lower level.

So we will get concreted over at great profit to the developers and their councillor chums. There will be an element of public "investment" - i.e. confiscation of money from taxpayers to pay for "social" houses because this is "good for jobs".

And we will be increasingly a minority in more and more areas of an increasingly unpleasant country - one unable to feed or pay its way because of the massive overburden of "welfare" -
open to all comers and anybody who speaks against this is a racist!

Until we have a strong, continuous balance of payments surplus, things will get worse and worse.

Ian Hills said...

Ironically the new "neighbourhood forums" will exacerbate ethnic and religious tensions. Yet more proof that multiculturalism doesn't work.

And what's stopping this victim culture group from moving to Israel, where whole neighbourhoods are given over to large ultra-orthodox families?

As if there wasn't enough anti-semitism, this lot want to stir up some more - this time from NON muslims.

Tomsmith said...

Better anarchy than politics

Weekend Yachtsman said...

"The regulation of built development is only legitimate so long as its necessary for the common good"


And this is why it's a tragedy that the building regulations have been subverted in the interests of commercial lobbying, and political fashion: DDA, absurd insulation requirements, nonsense about who can install windows, nonsense about who can install a light fitting, attempts/intentions to ban the use of oil-fired central heating boilers, and so on.

If Building Regs are just a way of enforcing producer interests and green fascism, why care about them? Then if you're not careful you throw out the baby with the bathwater.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately the low birth rate of the indigenous population means that younger people have to be "imported".
Since the "imports" have a higher birth rate than the "here for generations" they are increasingly considering themselves "indigenous", with justification.
Balance of payments improve ?
Yer 'avin' a laarrffff en'cha ?
Have a look at the labels on everything "made in everywhere else"
Even the "made in Britain" are made here from parts made everywhere else !
Who are we going to sell to ?
Mired in recession/depression.
The Americas ?
Same mire.
China ?
Maybe. Except China is rapidly heading towards a cliff of overproduction and falling sales. Coupled with its population wanting more.
I think instead of wasting time trying to improve the unimproveable we should look to a future of less, and more expensive less.
Increasing the supply of fossil-fuels available may be better than buying abroad, but that will never pass the green litmus test.
Drawbridge drawn up here...shit is coming very soon....
Not really worth blaming the politicians...they're "bought people".