Planning, planning, planning . . . .
7 May 2004
A South East Regional Planner at Work
A South East Regional Planner at Work
Our democracy seems to get more and more like the old-style Soviet Union. By chance I came across a truly classic example of this, the "South East Plan" process. This is a major activity of that mysterious entity SEERA, the South East England Regional Assembly, of whose existence (based on a random sample of people asked in the pub) most people in North West Hampshire seem blissfully unaware.

I am all in favour of people participating in the planning process - but it needs to be user-friendly.

I came across the current procedures by accident, when a note from one of our borough councils to one of our parish councils drifted across my desk. Parish councils were being told of 'Spring Debates' across the South East, but sadly, the date when the note was posted happened to be the date of the local debate. Alternatively, interested parties might send in their written comments, via the "South East Plan" website (http://www.southeast-ra.gov.uk/southeastplan). It's here that the breathtaking scale of this bureaucratic and obscure process is revealed. Before commenting we are invited to "Hold your own debate". Before doing so, we can enjoy downloading and reading the eleven 'discussion papers' - typically between 500 kb and a megabyte .pdf files. All this feeds in to "drafting during the late summer and autumn "so that the Assembly can consider and approve a Draft Plan for wide-ranging public consultation, starting in January 2005."

Around the constituency, I've no doubt that thousands are holding their breath!

I like the old arrangement when the County Plan was produced by the county council, and the process was less remote.
http://www.southeast-ra.gov.uk/southeastplan/
 
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