The first chapters of Douglas Adam’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy poke fun at local government planning. As Earth faces utter destruction by a Vogon Constructor Fleet, Arthur Dent is lying in front of some terrestrial bulldozers in his dressing gown. He has only just discovered the Local Council plans to demolish his home to build a by-pass. Mr Prosser from the planning department is sent to reason with him, pointing out that ‘the plans have been available in the local planning office for the last nine months.’
Under the current national planning policy, District Councils are obliged to create a ‘Local Plan’ which sets out how they are going to meet the needs of their community for housing, jobs, transport and essential services. The population is growing, people are living longer and more people are choosing to live alone.
Where should we put all the new homes? Is it sensible to have all the employment in the north of the district and build houses in the south? How are people going to get to work if the roads are already congested?
At the Seallam! Centre, while on holiday in the Hebrides, I learned about the Highland Clearances. A handful of absentee landlords wanted the land for sheep and evicted their less profitable human tenants from their homes. It took direct action in the post-war period to restore a fairer way of managing the land.
Democracy only works if ordinary people bother to get involved. You will have a chance to comment on the Local Plan which is due to be published at the end of the month.
Before pushing the “destruct” button, the Captain of the Vogon constructor fleet informs the terrified residents of Earth, “Planning charts and demolition orders have been on display in the local planning department in Alpha Centauri for fifty of your Earth years. It’s far too late to start making a fuss about it now.”
“The NWLDC Planning Department is not that far,” says Labour Planning Lead Cllr John Legrys. “Do drop in and view the plans, before it is too late.”