I recall a planner - a very senior planner - describing the localism act and its neighbourhood planning ideas as "the thin end of the wedge". It is a threat to their power and control - and they want it stopped:
The neighbourhood plan for Dawlish had been drawn up by a steering group of local representatives, including Dawlish Town Council and Teignbridge District Council.
The plan, which proposes 900 new homes over the next 20 years, has been examined by Christopher Balch, professor of planning at Plymouth University.
This is the first - an experiment that looked to be going well until this representative of the planning world arrived:
Balch’s report, published today, said that the plan reflected the National Planning Policy Framework by "providing a positive approach to plan-led growth". But he added that "it is not possible to demonstrate that the provision for housing growth is based on an objective assessment of housing requirements", as Teignbridge District Council’s emerging core strategy is yet to have been settled.
You see, dear readers, the local community had done it for themselves and hadn't employed the services of Professor Balch or his pals. So:
Balch said that Dawlish’s proposed neighbourhood plan is "neither positively prepared nor justified".
His report recommends that the Dawlish neighbourhood plan should not proceed to a referendum. In a letter to the council, Balch said: "This could only take place once the strategic policies of Teignbridge District Council have been settled and changes had been made to ensure full conformity."
That's it - the plans are no good because they don't confirm with other plans that have yet to be drawn up. Other plans that will involve planners not the local communities. And so - in my judgement contrary to the spirit of localism - Professor Balch, in the interest of planners everywhere has fired the first salvo in their resistance to communities having any say in what is, or is not, built in those communities.
I hope the referendum goes ahead and sticks Professor Balch's report where the sun don't shine.