Government is holding a consultation on development corporations until 21 December: Government Development Corporations consultation
What’s it about?
Government wants “to see a new generation of development corporations that bring together private and public sector partners to an even greater extent and that work with local communities to deliver the regeneration, critical infrastructure and transformational housing they need.”
Government wants to explore “what additional measures might help to attract more investment and the greater private sector involvement in the leadership of development corporations.”
The question is, is this idea a good thing? The first question in this consultation should really be, “Is this new approach needed, and what are the possible pitfalls?”, but it is not, implying that decisions have already been made.
Why should you respond?
You might be thinking that development corporations do not affect you, but if you live in north Essex or in the Oxford Cambridge ‘Arc’, they definitely do – for very large scale green field development. In north Essex, proposals for three unpopular new towns are already under examination, and about to be examined again. In the ‘Arc’ the desire of government to build one million homes is well known.
It is interesting that a group of developers* called for something similar for the Oxford-Cambridge ‘Arc’ only a couple of days before this consultation was announced. If developers think it is a good thing, then should we be wary? Will it simply enable them to make money away from the scrutiny of the local authority planning process?
We already have a pre-cursor to a Locally Led Development Corporation in north Essex. It’s an unaccountable quango, which spends tax-payers’ money like water on consultants’ reports. The last thing we want is any developers calling the shots behind closed doors. All sorts of transparency issues and conflicts and State Aid issues are already arising – we think this will get worse if the government’s proposals are implemented.
Smart Growth UK sums it up in a blog**, saying that the developers “want an ‘Olympic-style body’, basically an unelected quango, to impose the unsustainable developments they seek. The ‘new body, which would bring together local councils and developers, would be responsible for delivering all new housing, transport links, social infrastructure and commercial space within the Arc’.
Bring them together to do what they’re told to do.”
The consultation is quite technical consultatio but it is important that campaign groups respond to so that there is some balance in the consultation responses (which are likely otherwise to be from the private sector stating why this is a great idea).
My draft response is attached, in case it is of use: Development Corporation consultation Draft Response