Tory success in the local elections will lead to more council opposition to the goverment's eco-town proposals
Confronted by Labour’s worst set of local government election results for 40 years, it will be of no consolation to Gordon Brown that his Party’s planning policy was not a significant contributor to the electorate’s rejection of his party.
The botched abolition of the 10p tax rate and Tory accusations of Prime Ministerial dithering and indecision are what really sunk Labour at the polls.
This does not mean, however, that there are no implications for decision-making on planning issues by local authorities. For example, newly elected councils now under Conservative control will not view the Government’s devotion to affordable housing with the same enthusiasm as their predecessors.
And the lingering resentment felt by some that eco-towns are an unwanted imposition from central government will come to the fore with greater force. Scratchiness between central and local government, therefore, will increase and the Government may find it harder to implement its policy on the ground.
Conservative councils, keen to reinforce their Party’s David Cameron inspired commitment to the environment, are also likely to be pretty robust in their opposition to development on green field sites.
The prospect of greater green belt development that was put forward by Kate Barker’s 2006 Review of Land Use Planning received a relatively warm reception from the Labour Government. Such sentiments will not be shared by Tory local authorities. The Government target of 3 million new homes by 2020 is looking tougher to deliver all the time.
Finally, these local election results have almost certainly killed off any prospect of a general election before 2010. The industry has plenty of time, therefore, to get its planning massages across to politicians before the nation decides whether it wants a change of government.
Simon Miller is managing director of Green Issues Communication