Never one to shy away from a good planning debate, Local Dialogue and the London Society jointly hosted a London Mayoral hustings at the University of Westminster.
The debate between the big hitters of each of the main parties was ably chaired by the BBC’s Mark Easton (could he be the journo who manages to topple the Dimbleby dynasty? – you heard it here first).
Lib Dem Caroline Pidgeon, set out her stall advocating the Mayor kept the ‘Olympic precept’ (a £20 a year charge on households) in place to fund a radical £2bn home building programme. It would be a welcome injection, but will this be enough to provide the homes we need?
Well known left wing Labour MP, Diane Abbot pulled no punches with developers, slamming sham viability reports and advocating a return to rent controls to help Londoners continue living in the communities they’ve grown up in.
While Conservative hopeful Andrew Boff drew gasps from the audience, advocating heights of development be capped to six stories save for in 5 areas designated for tall buildings – The City, Canary Wharf, Croydon, Nine Elms and “one other” (where, we still don’t know!).
Green, Sian Berry focussed on community involvement in planning – advocating that communities working together could come up with better plans than bureaucrats and developers.
While some might have been puzzled to hear some off the wall ideas [rent controls and no buildings over 6 storeys!], this didn’t surprise us. We saw each member setting out their stalls, not to the wider public, but to members of their own parties. Each one must secure backing of their own party, before having a chance of asking the public for their votes.
It’s not unlike the debates and discussions that take place around developments at exhibitions and at planning committee. Politicians will say different things depending on who they think is listening and who they want to speak to. Understanding this is vital and often that’s why securing a one to one meeting can ‘cut through the noise’. If you need help sorting the rhetoric from the opinion and getting to meet the right people, give us a call.