South Beds FoE Homepage

Green Corner




An A-Z of the environment & issues

by Peter Hatswell



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P is for Planning


Good planning can make or break any project and is designed to anticipate the benefits or damage that could occur as an idea is put into practice. For example, putting in foundations that are suitable for a structure depends on experience and knowledge, avoiding problems of subsidence, flooding and nuisance to neighbours.

Who would have thought that paving over too many front gardens could cause problems for storm drains and lead to less water reaching the underground aquifers that we depend on so heavily in this part of the country?

Fortunately, professionals in local Planning Departments are aware of most of the pitfalls and have clear guidelines to cover most physical aspects. They are a little weaker on grounds of taste and community and are often subject to political pressures, such as the need for affordable housing – which in the 1960s led to wholesale construction of the infamous multi-storey tower blocks.

Lessons have been learnt but new problems keep springing up such as the need to reduce carbon emissions and environmental damage both in the construction and occupation of new homes. For new developments in South Bedfordshire it would be best to build carbon-neutral houses making best use of solar energy and with the highest standards of insulation and efficient heating systems. If we are not to run out of water, these homes also need to capture rainfall and recycle as much water as possible.

It is easy to be cynical about ‘public consultations’ on planning matters where the issue may have already been decided. Without public faith and trust in the system there is a danger that it will become corrupt so it important that we all make an effort to respond to these requests. Recently, the local authorities sent round a questionnaire about the proposed new housing entitled ’Shape your future’ which needs to be answered by 28 September. If you have accidentally recycled this leaflet you can get another from the District Council (tel 472222) or download from the website



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