…. or business as usual?
Pictured here is Robert Jenrick MP, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG), presently the subject of press scrutiny as to why a planning decision he overturned (against advice) was followed by a donation to the Conservative party from the developer who benefitted from Jenrick’s decision.
The ministry over which Jenrick presides is responsible for planning law, housing targets, the local plan process and is also “sponsor” of the Planning Inspectorate. Along with the Treasury it is the ministry with most influence over local government and thus Uttlesford District Council.
We should expect the person at the top of MHCLG to be beyond reproach. But that seems too much to ask. Jenrick has admitted his decision to over-turn the decision of a Planning Inspector could be seen as biased, all the more so because the timing of the decision saved the developer some £40million in Community Infrastructure Levy.
At a time when the development industry is pressuring Govt to dilute local authority control over planning it is deeply worrying that those in control of housing policy are willing to benefit developers who are party donors. When this sort of thing happens in a distant third world country there is a chorus of “what do you expect?” It begs the question: what should we expect of our own government?