UK Flirts With NIMBY On Steroids! Can It Help Local Planning?

white men and women at a picnic table
Not so long since neighbourhood picnics featured male 'elders,' often all white, making key neighbourhood decisions. Is this where we're heading again?

Top levels of British Government have suddenly discovered that people get passionate about neighbourhood change. As a memory jog for those who haven’t considered this lately, it’s a familiar phenomenon, which produces quite predictable results. Caring about planning change invariably manifests itself as ‘no change, dammit,’ otherwise known as ‘Not In My Back Yard’ (NIMBY).

Ah, sweet memories of Neoliberalism and Margaret Thatcher! The current Conservative Party’s national dominance is fostering an urge to really embrace the ‘small’ in small government. They are proposing to do so by endorsing NIMBYism as an approved means of making local planning decisions.

Hmm. Ask someone who greets the local morning with a magic moment. Later in the day, it will be the remembered as the magic of a local neighbourhood in its hour of perfection, to be frozen in time forever more. So why not hand local planning decisions over those who worship this magic moment1.

Is this a useful way of shaping the United Kingdom’s neighbourhoods and, by extension, the entire nation’s future? Far from everybody thinks so. Jackie Weaver is someone with experience who sums up her opinion in this article in i: You think my parish council meeting was heated? New ‘street votes’ could be much worse

For a recent take on the same subject in America, The Atlantic devotes extensive thought to reach some similar conclusions, somewhat dramatically reflecting that too much power vested at the neighbourhood level was a threat to democracy. Try: To Stop Housing, Mass Transit, Green Energy? Just Yell


  1. Not everyone is on board with this idea. See more at LGC: ‘Street Votes’ policy deemed to be ‘slightly bonkers’ by councils