chapter  8
17 Pages


The New Labour era officially came to an end on 11 May 2010, when Gordon Brown announced his resignation and the Queen asked David Cameron to form a government. The coalition between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats was announced on 12 May, and on the same day Eric Pickles was appointed secretary of state for communities and local government. Within days the new government was beginning to unpick many of the policies and approaches of Labour and roll out its own agenda. Few had a clear idea what that agenda actually was and what it would mean for planning. Among immediate changes was the ‘abolition’ of Regional Spatial Strategies and density targets. In the longer term the coalition government intended to move towards a more local approach, incentivising communities to accept development rather than imposing it. How this would work was unclear, though a Localism Bill intended for late 2010 would provide some detail. The Conservatives’ Green Paper Open Source Planning (Conservative Party, 2010) contained a range of ideas loosely linked to an overarching theme of ‘localism’. The proposals seemed, on the face of it, to be positioned as the antithesis of Labour’s approach. The analysis in Open Source Planning of the previous thirteen years was scathing and attacked the ‘top-down’, anti-democratic, antagonistic and ineffective nature of planning reforms under Labour. Such sentiments were echoed by some in the industry: ‘We won’t mourn the passing of density targets which, like most of the housing aspirations held by the last government, failed dismally to translate into any benefit for communities’ (Liz Peace, BPF chief executive, 10 June 2010).