Rescue have written in response to the recent White Paper issued by the Housing and Finance Institute – “The Housing Problem in London: a broken planning system” (written by Sir Mark Boleat).
This represented some strong opinions, stating that there was a “bias against development” in the planning process. Sir Mark Boleat also railed against planning conditions:
A second feature of the planning system that creates problems is the imposition of conditions that must be fulfilled, in some case before development can commence. Many of these conditions are necessary and readily accepted by developers. But others are not and may reflect the whim of a particular officer concerned about conservation or archaeology or wind or trees. It is questionable whether such conditions are properly considered by officers and probably not questionable that they are not properly considered by elected members.
Some conditions can impose huge costs on developers – whether directly or by delaying the commencement of a development. Developers report that it can now frequently take six months to fulfil conditions and therefore start building, whereas one month used to be the norm. There is no requirement on planning authorities to properly justify the reason for the conditions (often there is simply a reference to a policy of the authority).
We initially wrote to The Housing and Finance Institute to strongly respond emphasising that:
No archaeological condition (or any other condition for that matter) is imposed at “the whim of a particular officer”, but only in response to known threats to a diminishing resource and in accordance with acknowledged and agreed national and local planning policies that are already in place. Archaeological conditions are not “nice to have” as he suggests, but exist to ensure development does not destroy without responsibility.
Following a response from Sir Mark Boleat, we wrote to further explain our position. Rescue are clear that the value of heritage is beyond doubt – not only in the economic value it brings. We will continue to argue that heritage is not just nice to have but essential to us all.
Both letters are reproduced below.