Democratic Deficit

The demand for a new Expressway and “growth corridor” initially came from the unelected National Infrastructure Commission. It is now being promoted by similarly unelected bureaucrats at Highways England. There has been no consultation with members of the public, and no proper environmental assessment required by law.

Meanwhile, the way the scheme has been developed so far is also undermining the local plan process. For example, the Vale of Aylesbury Local Plan (VALP), which has found room for 28,000 new houses, has already been through the hearing stage. But now, the Planning Inspector appears to require that the council increase the proposed submission housing allocation to allow for the growth that the government wants to see in the Arc. So here is central government telling a local council to arbitrarily increase its housing allocation, with no semblance of public scrutiny, to meet some aspirational growth around a road whose actual route hasn’t even been decided yet. This completely bypasses the plan-led system and makes a real sham of whatever limited local democracy we are allowed.

To their credit, planners at Aylesbury Vale District Council have written back, politely enough, to say that allocating sites to please the Government isn’t how planning is supposed to work. Quite right. This isn’t China.