Hardly confined to mere philosophy, the concept of enlightened self-interest plays a very important role in the practical, hard-headed world of planning politics. In fact, one could say that it is integral to the system. This is because land is scarce, new developments come with risk and politicians have a duty to ensure that their local communities will benefit. Making a proposal of any kind invites the question “what’s in it for me?” and if you are seeking planning permission, you would do well to have a good answer prepared.
Start with Section 106
The most direct way in which you can go about this is through a Section 106 agreement. Also known as planning obligations, these agreements are negotiated between developers and local authorities and outline the former’s legally binding commitments to be undertaken in return for receiving planning consent. They are most often used by developers as a means to propose community benefits to counterbalance any associated risks or consequences to local residential life. Using these to promise direct community investment in things like affordable housing and urban regeneration is often paramount to the process.
Perhaps of even greater importance, a robust promise of new economic opportunities can give you a decisive advantage. Even the most controversial development projects can be secured if there is seen to be a good number of jobs and business opportunities on the table. But developers must be wary of making promises that are unrealistic as these will inevitably come under serious scrutiny. Therefore it is advised that you consult local communities and work out a realistic plan. Only then you can make solid commitments to guarantee that any gains will accrue to local residents.
Finally, it would be wise to ask yourself how you can strengthen your organisation’s reputation as the good neighbour everyone is looking for. The way in which supermarkets have invested great effort to develop a corporate image of goodwill through numerous charity schemes is testimony to the importance of this. Fostering a perception of your organisation as one that looks after the wellbeing of its local community can help you win the long war of planning battles.
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