Peter Murray

In a joint event with RTPI London, Daniel Moylan, former Deputy Chairman of Transport for London and former Deputy Leader of Kensington and Chelsea Council, asked if the Planning system in London is not now so anti-market and so anti-people in its outcomes that it would not be better to abolish it and start again with a much lighter touch. Victoria Hills, Chief Executive of the Royal Town Planning Institute, responded. Joanna Day was in the audience.

It is perhaps inevitable that a debate entitled ‘The Planning System: Broken Beyond Repair’ will create a lively discussion with strongly held, contrary, views from those working in the field or interfacing with it. The event did not disappoint.

Those spending their time dealing with planning authorities at a local day-to-day level often have the perception of a malfunctioning, under-resourced system. What is not necessarily thought about so often is the wider picture: the purpose and future of the overall system.

It’s hard to work out where to stand in defending or attacking the planning system. It’s easy to be critical of many of the processes and the outcomes. And many authorities are clearly under-resourced. However, it remains a system there to function democratically and protect the public good, and so a poorly functioning system might be better than none…?

Within this context, it was of interest to hear Daniel Moylan’s thesis that the planning system is a broken one at a systemic level, controlled, he posits, largely by the developers and beyond redemption. That where some see democracy he sees lobbying, and that it is a distorted market that is underperforming, not a real one.

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