Planning reform – a ‘tetralogue’

Planning reform: A debate between Ben Southwood, Rosie Pearson, Ed Shepherd and John Myers, with an introduction from Daniel Slade.

The TCPA has invited four very different voices to debate the government’s proposed planning reforms in the pages of the TCPA’s journal.

This ‘tetralogue’ is an experiment in taking the tribalism out of the online discourse, and fostering a constructive, but nonetheless critical, conversation around the future of planning. It draws on the TCPA’s 122 year history as a home for alternative and diverse thought about how to start down ‘a peaceful path to real reform’.

Introducing the special edition, TCPA Policy and Projects manager Daniel Slade writes:

“It is hard to pinpoint when it changed, but planning and housing Twitter feels like a far more brutal place than it did a few years ago.

“If your daily Twitter scrolling experience is anything like mine, it tends to begin with a mix of nice architectural photos (today, some lovely inter-war Doric columns in Llandudno), useful analysis of government policy, @PlanningShit, and some valuable reminders that we are on the brink of climate apocalypse, before degenerating into the usual planning reform dog fight: crosstalk, meaningless point- scoring, virtue signalling, basic rudeness and ad hominem attacks, and repetition. No-one gets anywhere and everyone – or at least most of us – end up miserable. All watched over by algorithms of loving grace.

“It is true that planning reform Twitter is a societal bubble within a bubble, within a bubble. But it’s hard to shake the feeling that the state of the online debate does matter, and not just because it represents a wider malaise. The platform has obvious limitations, which limit Twitter as a medium, but a huge amount is at stake, and in the frank and open exchange of views and information there is something worth salvaging.”