The Planning System Really Does Carry The Weight Of the World On Its Shoulders

The 50th Oxford Joint Planning Law Conference took place this weekend. It was great to see many of you.

On the first morning, Christopher Lockhart-Mummery KC gave a lovely paper contrasting his recollections of the planning system as it was in 1972 with how it was when he retired from practice last year.

Of course, we can all bemoan the modern-day complexity, but of course one reason for it is the range of regulatory checks and considerations which have been shoe-horned into the system, often for the best of reasons but boy does this system take time to load these days.

The now disbanded Advisory Team for Large Applications had the very apt acronym, ATLAS, who is shown in sculptures as carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders (although this was rather an exaggeration as apparently – this is all real, right? – he only held up the sky – which frankly doesn’t sound so difficult).

Rather than write a proper blog post this weekend, I thought I might simply set out some links to previous blog posts where I have covered matters which have become relevant to the consideration of planning applications since the simplistic system of the 1970s that Christopher nostalgically described. These are just some examples of many. No surprise why the system is more complex now than then.

I could add many more. There are so many public policy outcomes which, for delivery, rely in large measure on our poor creaking planning system. There’s little “red tape” in any of this either. “Simplifying” planning isn’t easy.

Simon Ricketts, 17 September 2022

Personal views, et cetera