Eurovision style juries for house extensions? While reaction to Jeremy Kite food bank picture over-the-top

THE Conservative leader of Dartford council, Jeremy Kite, got into hot water after being snapped smiling. His offense? To be photographed opening a food bank in the town.

He was duly derided by the keyboard warriors who got on his case with the standard outrage about how heartless the government was. It seemed a rather over-the-top reaction.

Jeremy Kite at the food bank opening

With hindsight it may have been better had he not gone along as a VIP but it was not exactly the crime of the century.

AFTER having its previous attempts to shake-up the planning system trashed by just about everyone, including most Kent MPs, the government has clearly decided a new populist approach is required.

Algorithms to determine house-building targets are out and zones in which developers would not need planning permission are consigned to the waste bin.

In their place comes what could best be described as a ‘novel’ idea – giving people the right to vote on whether house extensions and other developments in their street should get planning permission.

Even given that there are times when neighboring tensions arise over dormer windows and extensions, this proposal for ‘street votes’ seems to be built on some shoddy foundations – notably the expectation that people will want to be involved in a referendum on whether an extension in their street should be allowed.

Quite how the system would work is yet to be decided but perhaps with one eye on the Eurovision song contest, there will be some kind of a jury panel of residents to determine applications or a Britain’s Got Talent requirement to get four judges to say yes to a loft extension.

What most people want from a planning system is a chance for their voice to be heard and for the views to be given equal consideration to those of developers.

The current planning system is not perfect by any means. Even given its shortcomings, it is better than a scheme in which changing the color of your front door becomes dependent on your neighbors.

Eurovision 2022
Eurovision 2022

THE news that the government is to delay for a fourth time the implementation of new controls on goods coming from Europe has not gone down well in some quarters.

The government’s announcement that the existing arrangements would stay in place until 2023 might seem a good thing as HGVs won’t be subject to the inspections needed in a post-Brexit world just yet.

The problem is that port health authorities like the one at Ashford have been recruiting staff to jobs that were thought to be needed aren’t needed just yet – leaving the council that runs it trying to find other things for some to do.


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