Away from the madness of Brexit, by-elections and President Trump’s visit this week the Labour Party have released a report that could have potentially significant implications for the planning process. Among many of the suggestions in the “Land for the many” report, authored by The Guardian’s George Monbiot, was the suggestion of using “juries” to decide, among other things, how Local Plans are formed.
This has caused a lot of debate and curiosity. On the one hand this is not a new idea. This very much echoes the ambitions of the Blair Government in the late 1990s of Citizens Juries. These were received with mixed success. Delegating difficult decisions to the public is not always successful.
The first rule of politics is never ask a question that either you don’t know the answer to or that you are not prepared to live with. The way we make decisions is evolving. To deliver the places that we want to live and work in, it is important that schemes coming forward involve those that will be impacted. The creation of juries to decide these decisions seem to be a slightly blunt and simplistic approach.
At Cratus we are working with a number of clients to try and reach the ever elusive “hard to reach” groups to ensure that schemes really do benefit everyone. The traditional Public Exhibition still has a role to play but there is now room for a combination of techniques – getting out to engage with people, where they work, live and shop is key.
Jury service for planning may be just one answer to the problem. However, we know that there are many other solutions out there to help create more informed and engaged communities.