I write in support of Steve Martin’s objection (letters, Feb 15th) to the proposal to introduce a new, system of consideration of planning applications in which the more wealthy the applicant the more likely he or she is to receive approval.
Any system more spectacularly unfair and socially divisive would be hard to imagine. Even as it exists, the system is loaded quite enough against ordinary, non-wealthy applicants and objectors. These can rarely afford the expense of repeated applications, nor the large fees charged by advocates. In contrast, developers are allowed to respond to refusals with repeated, marginally altered, revised applications backed up by as much legal muscle as necessary to bludgeon the system into
eventual submission. If the system needs any revision, it is in two
First, a need to restrict the repeated submission of refused applications using minimally modified details, possibly by insisting that the modifications in a repeated application are entirely sufficient to nullify the grounds of the refusal of the original application. Second, the abandoning of the use of UK planning inspectors to advise on appeals. Why cannot the Minister decide appeals himself (unless he declares an interest in the outcome)? It is yet another example of the Manx government (and at least one local authority) hiving off responsibility for decisions onto UK ‘consultants’ - a process that must waste large amounts of public money.
A recent book, ‘The Spirit Level’ shows clearly how the many social ills of all the advanced democratic societies for which reliable statistics are available are linked remarkably closely to the degree of wealth inequality in the society. Allowing special privileges for the wealthy is precisely the sort of thing that caring governments should avoid.
S J (Jim) Hawkins,