New 50 Shades of Planning Podcast – All politics is local

Kevin Whitmore BECG

Written by

Kevin Whitmore


A triangle is a polygon with three edges and three vertices. The planning system, it could be contended, is a triangle.

At one vertex there are the officers, the professionals, the technocrats, battling gainfully to get a local plan in place so as to determine planning applications in accordance with it.

At another vertex there are the great British public, whose consciousness is only really pricked by planning when an application is mooted that might add vital seconds to waiting times at the end of their road.

At the third vertex there are the councillors, who have a responsibility for both a councils’ corporate priorities and the priorities of the people likely to influence their re-election prospects.

The role of the councillor has increased considerably, it could be said, since the localism genie was let out of the bottle back in 2010, with an expectation that nobody has sought to dampen since that communities are very much in control even if a site has already been allocated or already has an outline permission.

As planning has become more contentious, arguably as a result of said genie being out of said bottle, the number of independent councillors has also increased, and they often soon realise that a council’s priorities and the public’s priorities might be two very different things.

Is too much expected of councillors or too little? Do councillors have too much power or too little? Should the planning triangle be an equilateral one, with all three parties in perfect harmonious balance, or are the needs of one group any more acute than the others?

These are questions that Sam Stafford explored in a conversation recorded remotely with Kevin Whitmore, Catriona Riddell and Adele Morris in December 2022, but is being published now with local elections again back on the horizon.

If you’d like to take part in the podcast or want help managing or launching your own podcast then please get in touch on 0161 359 4100 or email Kevin Whitmore.


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