Planning Priorities: time to rethink

The timetable for approving Fareham’s Local Plan will have to be re-assessed. With most of life and endeavour currently on hold, the only certainty is that plans will change once the plague has passed.

The urgent and very necessary responses needed to combat COVID-19 have ensured that there will be no ‘getting back to normal’ – leastways, it will be some new kind of normality.

I believe the pre-pandemic timetable for our Local Plan must be changed for three reasons.

Firstly, the priorities demanded by Westminster will, inevitably, be changed. Almost certainly priorities for Health, Housing, Education and Economic reconstruction will need to be reviewed. It may be expected that infrastructure priorities will be redefined, with Roads and Rail investments seeming less vital than transition to full fibre connectivity.

Secondly, the case for greener planning has shifted beyond debate. The pattern of economic stimulus applied after the 2008 global crash cannot be replicated. Public investments will, this time around, demand public return – and that means far more than job recreation. The investment justifications must also demand pro-active support for commercial efforts to combat climate change.

Thirdly, and most importantly, the Local Plan as it stands has no democratic mandate. If the May 2020 local elections had gone ahead our communities would have known exactly what they were voting for. In earlier commentary we had questioned the adequacy of Local Plan consultation. In the post-pandemic rebuilding of the UK we will campaign for far greater devolution of authority to Local Authorities – a shift away from the over-centralisation of recent decades.

It will take some time for our country and communities to recover. We should certainly not crash on with any Local Plan based on old ideas without the support of local people.




Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.