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Poor form

Last year we received numerous Golden Bull entries regarding overlong or badly written (or both) planning consultation forms.

2015 will probably be no different. A Thanet resident has sent in a complaint about a 263-page planning consultation document which is 'very hard to understand'. There's also a questionnaire, which runs to 99 pages.

It's worth pointing out that Thanet has the highest number of residents over age 65 in Kent. How likely is it then, all things considered, that many of Thanet's residents will read and respond to the consultation?

We've highlighted this issue before. When it comes to anything involving matters that will change the local environment, which local residents will be paying for, such planning documents and questionnaires need to be short, clear and easy to understand. No-one is going to, or should be expected to, read 263 badly written pages, or have two screens open in order to answer a questionnaire.

The resident who contacted us suggested that 'the reason it has be set out like this is to reduce the responses'. Could it be that the planned changes are likely to be unpopular, so the less everyone knows about them the better? That would make sense, and has certainly been the case in the past.

You can read this document online (or download as a PDF), and also view the questionnaire on the Draft Thanet Local Plan to 2031 - Preferred Options Consultation page of Thanet District Council's website.

We will probably see a large number of similar planning documents in the near future. Thanet are by no means an isolated case. It would be much easier for them, as it would for all council planning departments, if the Government provided clearer objectives and more straightforward guidelines. Councils are bound, to an extent, by legal demands and other constraints, so the blame doesn’t simply lie with those delivering the final document.

Coverage in the Isle of Thanet Gazette:-

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