It seems to me that most things we do in life involve buildings.  At the most basic level, everyone aspires to have some sort of shelter when they go to bed at night.

Working; relaxing; educating; entertaining; buying; selling.  At some point all involve interaction with buildings.

Good buildings, in the right places, make all of that easier.  So, perhaps naively, I tend to think that building new buildings is generally a good thing.

I like getting buildings built.

But my experience is that new buildings – or the loaded term ‘development’ – are more often than not found guilty until proven to be innocent and have to a run a bureaucratic gauntlet that is frequently of Byzantine complexity and, just occasionally, darkly comic.

This blog

This is a collection of my off-chance discoveries, comments and occasional frustrations as I try to navigate the vagaries and eccentricities of the English town planning system.

I am not out to express a cohesive world-view.  Nor am I trying to solve any of the various challenges that either politicians wish to throw at the planning system or which some planners – for reasons known best to themselves – wish to claim for their own.  But perhaps this blog might once or twice shed a little more light on a few muddled corners of this most confusing of systems.


My name is James Wickham.  I have been working as a town planning consultant in central London for over 15 years.  I have tried my hand at most things development-related over that time (although my waste and minerals planning chat is quite limited) and I increasingly work on strategic planning and policy.

Slight cynicism aside, I am incredibly fortunate to work on the cutting edge of public policy and urban development in one of the most interesting cities in the world.

I am a partner in the planning and development team at Gerald Eve.  But any opinion that I should express is my own.