The Guardian has discovered a revolving door between those who process planning permissions and the firms which advise on how to gain planning permission. Further, that some local councillors who vote on such matters have connections with, or are themselves, property developers.
The accusation of T Dan Smith style corruption isn't made - as of course it shouldn't be - but the implication that there's something not quite right with this is certainly in the air. There is of course an answer to this which is to make the planning system simpler, you dolts. As Our Sam points out in The Times in fact.
There's an important concept about bureaucracies, regulatory capture. This is normally meant to work one way, that a bureaucracy regulates in favour of the established players in the industry it's supposed to be regulating. But it also works the other way - the people in the bureaucracy switch sides. Tax inspectors join consultancies devising tax avoidance schemes - they're the only people who understand the horribly complex system well enough to do so. So too with a planning bureaucracy, the public sector has paid for their decades of understanding how it works why not cash in?
The answer to this of course being to have simple systems which anyone can understand and which doesn't need the intervention of that trained caste.
Which is where we find ourselves making the Protestant contention. Catholicism certainly used to insist that eternal life was far too complex for the rubes to get to grips with, better by far to have all the heavy thinking done by the priestly caste. The Protestant response being that the Word of God was there, written down in the Bible for any man to see for himself. What need of priests now, eh?
There are libraries full of books insisting that it was - in part at least - this simplicity of the finding of the path to salvation which helped to drive the social and cultural structure which led to the Industrial Revolution. It's a concept we should revisit.
Once planning - or tax - law is simple enough that any man can read and understand it then we'll not need the intervention of the priestly castes, shall we? At that point which side the clerics are trying to get paid by doesn't matter, does it?