Premier League followers will know that André Villas-Boas recently became the latest managerial casualty of the impatient regime, which has characterised Chelsea Football Club in recent years. The premature departure of this promising managerial prodigy follows the sacking of a number of other high profile tacticians, all with European pedigree and impressive résumés. These managers all share a common frustration: being given the boot prematurely before they could mould their own team and make their mark on the West London outfit.
The approach to the English Planning System over the last decade or so is one that could easily have been forged in the Stamford Bridge Board Room as it has been more ‘revolutionary’ than ‘evolutionary’.
The Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act (2004) was the Labour Government’s response to the perceived inflexibility in planning and its overly bureaucratic procedures. It was labelled as “the biggest shake-up in the planning system in half a century” and involved ‘shedding a tier’, streamlining national planning policy and introduced new planning policy documents. This new system was built around the concept of spatial planning: a vision-directed and implementation-orientated approach to planning at the regional and local levels.
However, in light of the fact that the majority of Local Authorities are still to adopt their Core Strategies, it is questionable whether sufficient time was allowed for this system to establish itself before being displaced by the Localism Bill.
In January 2011, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles described Localism as a paradigm shift in planning that would "fundamentally shake-up" the balance of power in England and end the "bonkers bureaucratic measures" created under Labour. He proclaimed Localism was a ‘triumph for democracy over bureaucracy’.
But isn’t Localism destined to be just another structural reconfiguration involving the removal of another tier, another attempt at streamlining national policy and the emergence of another suite of planning documents that we will start to produce but will be rendered obsolete when the next politically motivated revolution comes in to force?
Surely the dissemination of power that is the central ideology of Localism will make revolutionising the latest revolutionary approach a rather difficult and thankless task for future Government decision-makers. It will be difficult to re-coup this power from individuals, communities and Councils if indeed the need arises to shift power back towards Whitehall to meet pressing wider economic, social or environmental strategic objectives that are not captured at the Local Scale, possibly through a lack of ‘joined-up’ thinking.
Therefore, it could be said that the difficulties facing future Governments is similar to that of the next Chelsea boss who will have to overcome the obstacle of resistance from beneath (i.e. the notorious Stamford Bridge ‘player power’) before being able to exert their own influence.
Would the Planning System not benefit from a prolonged period of Fergie-esque stability, where we learn from our mistakes and adapt accordingly rather than the radicalism of recent years?