Zac Goldsmith is Member of Parliament for Richmond Park. Follow Zac on Twitter.
Like many colleagues, I have been inundated by letters from constituents about the Government’s proposed reform to the Planning system, almost of all of which express major concern. People are right to be paying attention; whatever reforms are introduced will leave a legacy for years to come.
I don’t doubt that the current system needs radical reform. It is, on so many levels, utterly perverse. It lacks democracy, it dis empowers even locally elected representatives, and it leads more often than not to the kind of development most people abhor. Indeed it is hard to imagine a system better designed to alienate and enrage.
Time and again local people rise up against a proposed new development – the paving over of a local garden for example — only to be squashed by the authorities. Even where residents, local councillors and elected MPs are united in determined opposition, their wishes are so often simply brushed aside by a remote planning bureaucrat.