Why planning policy is like #WW1 #LestWeForget
I like to read Twitter. It’s a great source of news. Better than Facebook, which is very inward looking and often tries to guess what you’re thinking. You do, to some extent, get news from Twitter, though it’s best to find and follow the right people.
A hashtag I often see at the moment is #WorseThanBeeching. Now Beeching was the analyst type that carved up the railways. He’s very famous. But I think we’re talking about social engineering here.
I may have watched completely the wrong history programme here, but I understand he was a bean counter who would see how many people were waiting for a train and then record it. Like a secret shopper perhaps. And if he went to the wrong station at the wrong time, poof. Like a secret shopper on acid if he didn’t get to you at the right time.
We’re still trying to correct the mistakes of Beeching. Building a new station at Ilkeston, for example.
Places with train stations have become terribly genteel, it seems, unless you’re in London and that’s a whole different ball game.
Belper, for example, is a victim of Beeching. It has a train station and I believe you can mosey up to Matlock or even get to London, if you change at Derby. I’ve never tried it. Have you ever tried to drive to Belper? It goes on for ever. I only go there midday.
For me, Belper is interesting. Really really cutesy centre, lots of Chelsea tractors and backward facing car seats. (I didn’t even realise that was a thing.) Signs saying you can’t wee in the coffee shop unless you buy a coffee. You can do baby sign and baby step and baby karate and everything there. (I may have made that bit up.)
But it’s also a sprawling mess of planning. It’s gradually being joined up to places like Heage, Bargate and Kilburn because it’s a victim of its own success: it has a train station. It has become desirable, because of this Beeching chappy we’re talking about.
When I started campaigning, the cries from the Tories were all about ‘well what about Belper?’ Yeah. Right I get you. I found the centre of Heage a couple of weeks ago trying to get from Belper School to my IT tech. It’s a planning disaster.
But why, you say, is planning policy like #WW1?
Because they are building on our green lungs (so people are dying due to traffic pollution)
Because they are building on our fields where children used to play (they are now more likely to be kept inside – lack of Vitamin D etc etc)
Because they are making other areas flooded…or just building on a flood plain and going ‘flood plain? Really? Oops.’ (Then someone has a nightmare to sort out – generally the public sector.)
Which land will you sacrifice for your children and your children’s children? I’m guessing it’s not your back garden unless you’re desperate.
- Make sure all your brownfield sites are built on first – this includes you supermarkets.
- Make sure all empty houses are filled.
- Old people sometimes need to live in smaller homes so build some bungalows too.
- Make sure your ‘social housing’ is big enough to swing a cat in.
- Insulate your homes properly.
- And stop making gardens smaller and smaller and smaller until they’re no bigger than a postage stamp, or a back yard, unless you’re rich and can get round planning legislation.