Whenever a planning application comes up for consideration, residents in this Borough almost inevitably object on the grounds of overburdened local infrastructure – be it overcrowded schools, under-resourced health facilities, lack of parking, or semi-permanent traffic jams. And just as inevitably, the answer comes down from the great and the good at Knowle Green: “These are not planning matters – the resources will follow the people.”
As a result, developers have been allowed to get away with murder. A new health centre was promised as part of the London Irish development. Has anyone seen it? We haven’t. No doubt other developers will promise one in future. And then renege.
The planners on both sides always blame someone else, never provide a solution, constantly hide behind some not-quite-apt clause or other in planning guidance. The developers cry poverty and keep their contributions to the community to the absolute minimum. And the central government authorities close their eyes and put their hands over their ears.
If ever an example were needed of how specious this line of reasoning is – and there are plenty of examples – then you need go no further than the articles in the Daily Mail, and the first issue of the new edition of the Surrey Advertiser, just before Christmas. See Document 88a attached.
“The Queue That Shames Britain” is the Daily Mail headline, referring to the scandal that is the Sunbury Health Centre. And just in case you think this is journalistic exaggeration, see Document 88b, which is the Autumn newsletter from the Health Centre itself.
It is abundantly clear that resources do not, in fact, follow the people. There is a technical term for this line of argument:
Don’t get us wrong. This is not an impoverished area of the country – even if it is the most impoverished Borough in Surrey. This problem is not ours alone. But even Parliament recognises the severity of this problem countrywide. The recently released (18 December 2014) report by the Parliamentary Select Committee for Communities and Local Government on the National Planning Policy Framework says the following:
“The committee made a number of recommendations to change the NPPF including requiring that environmental and social aspects of development proposals be given the same weight as economic aspects, and that permission be granted for development only if the necessary infrastructure was included.”
One of our neighbours, whose judgement we value, often says that to make a point in public matters you have to say it seven times. It seems that that is an underestimate. More like 70, or 700. But it needs to keep being said, until our lords and masters do something about it.
Never mind shaming Britain. It’s not the fault of those people queuing outside Sunbury Health Centre. It’s not the fault of the staff who work there. Specifically, it is the Queue That Shames Everyone in Authority, not least the planning system and the planners who run it.
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Keep Kempton Green