Log in | Register
21/12/2016

More planning required to overcome nimbyism

Words:
Nimby protest against development

Planners need more resources to carry our better consultation in order to deal with resistance to development, argues Hannah David

Reports of angry individuals reacting to a planning application are commonplace in our local and national media. Anyone attending a planning committee meeting is almost guaranteed to witness local objectors vociferously arguing their objections.

Objectors most often fit into two categories – those with a genuine concern that the proposed development is not for the good of the wider community and location, and those who are there to protect their own interests – Nimbys.

Retaining the democratic character of planning is fundamental, but there is an urgent need to address the distortion of the process by the Nimby. If self-interested objections take priority over big-picture planning, there will be few winners.

We need to get communities onside when it comes to development. Planners, decision-makers and developers must take part of the blame for the rise of anti-development attitudes. 

“Good, well-mediated processes produce consensual planning”

Heavy-handed approaches to development (questionable planning decisions that deliver poor-quality and inappropriate schemes; tick-box consultation processes; and a lack of emphasis on design) have engendered a culture of distrust in the system, and resentment in communities.

Working with communities to garner support for development would go a long way to countering the fears these objectors sustain. Good, well-mediated processes produce consensual planning outcomes and collaborative working will require all stakeholders to move beyond the individual interests towards a common goal.

Selfish concern about the perceived impact on property values and amenities is trickier to deal with. It is often unjustified and not a planning consideration. What this more importantly highlights is the desperation that some objectors reach.

Educating our communities about the advantages development can bring and re-looking at the direct benefits that can be delivered through planning gain is a step that local planning authorities can take.

The problem that Nimbyism presents is one that requires us to get behind the planning system as a driver of economic development and a mechanism for excellence in placemaking.

We must equip cash-strapped local planning authorities with the resources that they need to engage in proper consultation.

We must produce plans that draw on the views of local people and project a vision for the future. Well-informed local plans – drawing on a deep knowledge of what people want – should be enforced rigorously through the development process and act as a bulwark against the sectional interests of Nimbys.

Hannah David is director of the Planning Futures think tank

Photo | Shutterstock

Tags

FEATURES
  • What’s happening in Ireland? Here’s a round-up of key projects and events in 2020

  • The Covid-19 crisis is prompting councils to ‘reallocate’ road space to encourage active travel and enable pedestrians to get around safely. Measures are temporary but, asks Simon Wicks, does this herald a new approach to transport planning in towns and cities?

  • Local design guides can add distinctive regional elements to national design guidance and ensure well-designed buildings and places – that reflect community aspirations – become the norm, says Jane Dann

    Well designed houses
Email Newsletter Sign Up