There is a tendency to blame ‘the planners’ for everything that goes wrong, from dog mess to lack of public toilets to the failure to provide a full size Marks and Spencer’s store in town (I’ve come across all of these in Devizes) and of course that nasty habit of approving planning applications.
In that last context, the current applications for yet more housing along London Road come to mind. It was interesting therefore to find this statement in the latest copy of Town and Country Planning, the Journal of the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA), coming as it does from David Lock, one of the countries pre-eminent planners and a Vice-President of the TCPA.
The facile assertion that it is always ‘more sustainable’ to piggyback globules of new homes onto the amenities and facilities of an existing town, rather than start anew, is running out of steam: peripheral growth of a town may be locally justified by most careful design and analysis of the receptor town and its people, but as the default response that it has become it has succeeded in upsetting the existing locals who thought they were on the edge, and in stressing the life of the old town by overloading it.
Clearly not all planners should be seen as the villains of the piece. The focus of the article however is not a call to stop development, but for new settlements. It may suit residents of Devizes to call a halt, but what if the alternative were to be an expansion of say Worton or Bromham to perhaps 5000 people?