A conversation with Clive Betts artwork
The 50 Shades of Planning Podcast

A conversation with Clive Betts

  • E45
  • 44:53
  • June 19th 2021

Death, taxes and reform are the three certainties that accompany planners along life’s endless cycleway. Insofar as the latter is concerned, this is one of the more turbulent periods.

White Papers come and White Papers go, but last year’s was particularly notable for it’s almost wholesale reimagining of the planning system.

“Radical reform unlike anything we have seen since the Second World War”, wrote the Prime Minister in his foreword to ‘Planning for the future’. “Not more fiddling around the edges, not simply painting over the damp patches, but levelling the foundations and building, from the ground up, a whole new planning system for England.”

And since? Well there has not been a dicky bird from the Government, which is perhaps still wading through the 44,000 submissions to the consultation, and the debate, such that one can have a debate about a Planning Bill that has not been written yet, seems to have been captured by those who do not like whatever might be in it.

What then to make of the Housing, Communities and Local Government (HCLG) Select Committee’s report on the future of the planning system, which concluded with concerns about "the lack of detail, which has made it very difficult to assess the possible practical implications. The Government should consult on the details of proposed reforms to prevent unintended consequences and harms resulting from them”.

Does the Select Committee’s report provide proponents of the White Paper with the homework required to make the proposals more palatable? Or does the report provide opponents of the White Paper with enough ammunition to hole it below the water line? And what is a Select Committee anyway?

Sam Stafford puts these questions to Clive Betts MP, the Chair of the HCLG Committee who you will hear say that 'In the Netherlands planning is seen as part of the solution. In the UK, too often, planning is seen as part of the problem'. This quote now features on a 50 Shades of Planning Podcast t-shirt, which is available to buy in black or white and in S, M and L sizes. If you would like one please email [email protected]

Some reading to accompany this episode.

Planning for the future


The future of the planning system in England, a report by the HCLG Committee


Notes on planning reform: “the algorithm warmed us all up”, by Zack Simons


Taking Stock - The geography of housing need, permissions and completions, by Lichfields


Some accompanying listening.

White Paper by Finley Quaye


The 50 Shades of Planning Podcast

Sam Stafford started writing the 50 Shades of Planning blog in 2012 and in 2019 turned it into a podcast. 50 Shades of Planning is about the foibles of the English planning system and it's aim is to cover the breadth of the sector both in terms of topics of conversation and in terms of guests with different experiences and perspectives.

50 Shades episodes include 'Hitting The High Notes', which is a series of conversations with leading planning and property figures. The conversations take in the six milestone planning permissions or projects within a contributor’s career and for every project guests are invited to choose a piece of music that they were listening to at that time. Think Desert Island Discs, but for planners! If you would like to feature on 'Hitting The High Notes', or know somebody that would make a great guest, please email [email protected]

If you have listened to Episode 45 of the 50 Shades of Planning Podcast you will have heard Clive Betts say that...

'In the Netherlands planning is seen as part of the solution. In the UK, too often, planning is seen as part of the problem'.

Sam said in reply that that would look good on a t-shirt and it does. Further details can be found here: http://samuelstafford.blogspot.com/2021/07/50-shades-of-planning-t-shirts.html

Sam is on Twitter (@samuel_stafford) and his blogs can be found here: http://samuelstafford.blogspot.com.

The 50 Shades of Planning Podcast is produced in association with BECG - the Built Environment Communications Group. BECG are on Twitter at @BECGUK and online at www.becg.com.

Why Fifty Shades? Well, planning is not a black and white endeavor. There are at least fifty shades in between...

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