Some economic thinking is becoming a bit like the surreal world contained in Samuel Beckett’s play Waiting for Godot!
In the context of the poor economic climate and the publication of the national planning policy framework (NPPF), growth and planning have enjoyed a stormy relationship, positioned as adversaries rather than allies.
What we’re learning is that unlocking capacity is not straightforward. It takes time to produce a tangible output – but this is time that should be spent building up the confidence of stakeholders and not falling back into local government cultural norms around project sign-off processes and meeting cycles which can slow things down.
Neighbourhood renewal and economic development were always uneasy bedfellows but are now in danger of becoming distant cousins.
At a time when money’s too tight to mention for most of us, is there really much value in asking communities to list which local properties they might want to buy?
An ageing society is still typically regarded by many as a source of problems. But it is only a problem if workplaces, design and attitudes do not evolve in response to the inevitable social changes coming.
This is the time to rebuild communities – socially, economically and physically – with greater local control as a means of securing growth and for this to be accompanied by more progressive redistribution between communities and individuals.
At the core of this narrative for towns is a re-assertion of the statement of benefit. Towns are vehicles to deliver impacts. The problem is that we keep looking at them as problems, legacies of a past failed. There is a collective responsibility in re-shaping this story. I started today.
But of course, I’m told that local contracting is too expensive and anyway it’s against EU guidance. For the first I point to the thoughts of John Ruskin who said, ‘What is the cheapest to you now is likely to be the dearest to you in the end.’
My question is who tries to understand the likely impact of welfare reform and who picks up the pieces? With community advice services facing cuts in funding, the answer almost inevitably lies with local government and partners at the local level.