Beauty or the Beast?

Proposed reforms to the planning system were unveiled in the white paper last year and resulted in an outcry here in the home counties, with Theresa May saying it would result in the wrong houses being built in the wrong places. 

The electorate in Chesham and Amersham seemed to agree. 

It would have resulted in SPAE and councillors – our elected representatives – not having a say on individual planning applications, which would otherwise have been left to planning officers to determine. 


At the parliamentary select committee last week, when Michael Gove, secretary of state for housing (as well as levelling up), was asked if he were going to abandon the white paper altogether, said there were some things in it that everyone agrees are sensible. 

Poignantly, he said that people may feel that development “is being done to them rather than with” them.

Design guides are a key element of the white paper where residents would have a say in what they want. When asked about whether this would go down to street level, Gove said he "loves" the idea of a new street-based system of neighbourhood planning. 

He is in favour of a planning system where people can feel confident that beauty is taken seriously and where the community has a role in determining this.