I’ve sat through countless planning meetings during my time as a journalist.
I’ve heard people make well-reasoned arguments why something should not be built, usually near to where they live.
And I’ve heard and read comments criticising them as ‘NIMBYs’ ‘not in my back yard.’
I’d say eight times out of 10 the critics are wrong and the complainants are not ‘NIMBYs’.
OK, sometimes they are and “it will spoil my view” doesn’t carry much clout as an objection.
But legitimate objections about current overwhelming traffic getting worse, poor road infrastructure, lack of school places and public transport, doctors, shops and so on do need to be addressed and tends to happen in a piecemeal fashion, if at all.
The issue of where new houses and employment sites are built often causes controversy.
I’d say planning exposes the biggest divide between the people and the council - often it’s the first time people engage with democracy via planning and they find it doesn’t work how they think.
I do respect our local planners, They are educated in legal and technical policy in a way most of us aren’t and they’re stuck between a rock, a brick wall and a hard place - the rock being the semi-judicial policies, the brick wall being our councillors and the hard place being us, the public.
But I think the public getting involved shows that we care about where we live. I certainly do.
Before I even booked an appointment to view the house I now own I’d checked out the Kirklees planning site to see if any new developments were planned nearby.
I discovered new housing was going to be built only a few metres away and, yes, it would spoil the outlook from the garden.
I still bought the house - it had the storage space we needed and new housing nearby would be better than the brownfield eyesore that had become a dumping ground.
For the last year or two I’ve lived with a building site on my street - lorries coming and going, the noise of the diggers starting up in the morning and the ‘chip-chip’ sound of bricks being laid and I genuinely haven’t minded it.
The builders once relocated the location they were cutting breeze blocks as wind direction meant it was blowing towards my washing drying on the line one sunny day.
They also fixed a communal gate on the road and hand-delivered chocolates at Christmas.
But the houses being built are too expensive for me to buy.
Proper affordable housing - or lack of it - is one of the most common complaints people make during the planning process.
I live in an area I love but I’m unable to ‘buy up’ locally and get a third bedroom without adding £100,000-plus to my current mortgage.
It means I can’t move out of my terraced house and allow a new first-time buyer to get on the property ladder in a place I was able to.
See, no developers are building the next stage of houses where I live - have semi-detached houses gone out of fashion?
New ‘middle’ houses with garages and gardens are few and far between all over Huddersfield.
And if they do exist, they’re actually smaller than my terraced house. Plus they lack any storage.
I agree we need new houses, but why are they all larger, luxury family homes?
Often the builder throws in a token row of terraces to get their way with the rest of the site, but it leaves a gap between starter homes and the home you hope to retire in.
This week property experts in Huddersfield say it’s been a good start to the year, but they need more houses coming onto the market.
It won’t happen if people can’t upsize without saddling themselves with a mass of debt.
Remember, there was a financial crash not long back, largely caused by bankers, but in a small part caused when people took on too much debt.
Town planning should be about the wider town - and a town needs a mix of housing.
Planners, councillors and the public should be able to say ‘no’ to make sure a town has a mix of housing without being called a NIMBY.