Element Descriptor

Planning processes determine where and when development happens. Hastily considered development is environmentally and socially degrading. But done correctly, planning can benefit communities. The English planning system, in particular, is complex and ever changing. However, with a good understanding of it, social movement organisations are well placed to responding to a range of initiatives proposed in their local area and form alliances with others in response to a proposed development.

Level descriptors

Has a solid understanding of the UK planning system, and able to explain the key principles to others. Able to outline the through the main steps in any planning application.Understands the legal framework of the planning system, as well as some of the historical context. Familiar with planning processes at a range of scales, from major infrastructure projects to local plans. They have applied this knowledge to a specific context or development.Uses a strong and detailed understanding of the planning system to make an effective intervention into a real-world development situation.Has a CV littered with instances of getting development proposals overruled, against all the odds. Stopped roads, power plants. Next step: Honorary Professor of Planning. Knows what has happened to the Greater Manchester Spatial Plan.

Element Overview Essay

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The reason people don’t understand planning processes on the whole is that these planning processes are deliberately obscure, arcane, hidden, confusing, because that’s the way that our lords and masters like it. Insert Douglas Adams quote  

“But Mr Dent, the plans have been available in the local planning office for the last nine months.”

“Oh yes, well as soon as I heard I went straight round to see them, yesterday afternoon. You hadn’t exactly gone out of your way to call attention to them, had you? I mean, like actually telling anybody or anything.”

“But the plans were on display …”

“On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them.”

“That’s the display department.”

“With a flashlight.”

“Ah, well the lights had probably gone.”

“So had the stairs.”

“But look, you found the notice didn’t you?”

“Yes,” said Arthur, “yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard’.”

The consequences of not understanding how planning processes work, is you lose 100% of the time. Whereas if you have all your knowledge and all your ducks in a row, you might be able to push that loss rate down to I don’t know 80%. They make the laws to change as well. And the recent proposed change In the planning system, I going to allow slums in the sky. They are a developer’s ramp, which is exactly what you would expect of Boris and people pulling his strings, Dominic Cummings and the other libertarian thugs, I am not defending the status quo, or saying that this was a golden age, I’m saying that they’re trying to make things even worse.

So the solutions are to be aware of how the current planning system works. To keep abreast of the proposed changes, obviously, to fight those changes, and to fight for much better planning processes, and to learn about the skills that you will need So for example, you’re going to need the elements around understanding bureaucrats, pressures and incentives, politicians, pressures and incentives, engaging with planning processes. So I think that’s this one, engage, have reading local authority documents, convening groups. It’s a wide compound

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