What is an algorithm? An algorithm is a set of instructions that describes how to get something done. They can be designed using pseudocode and flow charts. They are written using statements and expressions.
Has it dawned on the elite in our councils that if a master algorithm was written for planning applications and decisions we could wipe out the whole planning department apart from one officer with a computer and one finance officer to take payments for the planning fees?
Boris Johnson has been warned that an algorithm at the heart of his planning reforms is at risk of “levelling down” city and town centres. Under the changes to planning laws, local discretion over the rate of house-building will be removed and central government will “distribute” an annual target, at present 337,000 a year, among local councils. They will then be required to designate enough land to meet the target.
Analysis by Lichfields, a planning consultancy, has suggested that outside London much of the new housing will be concentrated in Conservative local authority areas in the suburbs and the shires, rather than in town centres.
So here in West Lancashire, not a “shire”, we would have just our brownfield land and no other capacity to take more housing. It seems strange when planning to “level up”, to be levelling down, housing targets to rates even lower than they have been delivering. It would be quite difficult to explain to Conservative voters why they should take more housing in their areas to allow large Labour-run cities nearby to continue to stagnate rather than regenerate.”
The analysis suggested that under the algorithm for new housing will be built predominantly in London and the South East. The number of homes built in London would nearly treble, to 93,532, and the number in the South East would increase by 57 per cent, to 61,000.
The North East, North West, and Yorkshire and the Humber would all have lower overall numbers of homes built than the present three-year average. The North East, North West and Yorkshire and the Humber would all have lower overall numbers of homes built than the present three-year average.
There are significant disparities within regions under the new model. In Liverpool the number of new homes would fall by 59 per cent.
Mr Johnson has promised to rejuvenate the economy with a “build, build, build” strategy. Councils are to be given up to three and half years to designate areas for growth, renewal or protection. Once agreed, however, local politicians will have little or no say over specific applications that fit the rules. So we could get rid of the excess local politicians then?