The Coventry Society will shortly be publishing details of the proposed changes to the Planning System in England. John Payne identifies the main people proposing the changes.
Dominic Cummings, the Government’s Chief Adviser, caught Coronavirus and drove 260 miles to his second home in County Durham. In his Rose Garden interview he stressed that it wasn’t a nice place to be and was made of “some sort of concrete blocks”.
Local reporters soon established why Cumming’s second home was not a nice place to be – it had been built without planning permission! Local authority officials later confirmed that had planning permission been sought it would have been refused.
In a recent report in The Times it is reported that “Dominic Cummings pledged last night to overhaul the “appalling” planning system as Britain emerges from the coronavirus crisis”.
In another corner of politics is the “Right Honourable” (sic) Robert Jenrick, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government – the ultimate decision-maker on planning matters in England.
According to the Financial Times “Mr Jenrick’s political career is testament to his ability to get things built. Before being elected in 2014, he had two applications to enlarge his townhouse rejected by Westminster council. But two months after being elected, a third application was submitted under his wife’s name. Conservative councillors intervened to approve it against the recommendation of planning officers.”
Mr Jenrick attended a Conservative Party Fundraising dinner and was directly lobbied by Millionaire Richard Desmond who wanted to get planning permission for a £1billion waterfront development in London. Tower Hamlets had refused planning permission for the development as it was contrary to the Development Plan for the borough and this refusal was upheld by a Government Planning Inspector.
In January 2020, just months after being appointed as Secretary of State, Mr Jenrick over-ruled his inspectors and granted permission for the development. At Mr Desmond’s request he instructed Civil Servants to approve the development one day before a new Community Infrastructure Levy came into force. This saved Mr Desmond £45 million that would have contributed to schools and other infrastructure to support the development. As Mr Desmond told Jenrick in a text message “we appreciate the speed as we don’t want to give Marxists loads of doe for nothing!”
Perhaps the most surprising thing in all this was that Mr Desmond made only a miserly donation of £12,000 to Tory Party funds. The price of democracy in the UK appears remarkably cheap! Mr Jenrick claims that the accusations made against him were “not simply wrong but actually outrageous” and the Prime Minister agrees with him, stating that the matter is now closed. They were so outrageous that Mr Jenrick has since had to quash his own approval, conceding the decision was “unlawful”.
So these two people are behind the proposed changes to the Planning System. I think that we can be fairly certain that they will approach the matter in a fair and completely unbiased way. The planning system is surely safe in their hands! Isn’t it?
The views expressed in this article represents those of the author and are not the views of the Coventry Society.