NIMBYs Don’t Share UK Public’s Priority for Job Creation, Survey Says

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By Nick Keable, Chief Executive, Development Intelligence

Job creation is the number one issue for the British public, but NIMBYs, in their opposition to most development, dramatically fail to make the connection between job creation and new projects in their communities, according to a new UK survey.

The DI Tracker, commissioned by Development Intelligence, questioned both UK voters and local councilors and found unique insights in their diverging priorities on what is most important in supporting or opposing development.

The public see job creation as their number one issue, while councilors put impact on the local economy as most important. The public rank traffic impact as second most important, while councilors rank traffic only as fifth in important.

Three in four elected councilors (74 percent) see themselves as NIMBY (the Not In My Back Yard acronym for those who oppose more development because they view their community as overdeveloped or fine the way it is).

Local council opposition to development is significantly lower than the public NIMBYism in the UK, where five in six voters (87 percent) now say their neighborhood is overdeveloped or fine the way it is. This is a slight increase over 85 percent  NIMBY in 2009, 86 percent in 2008, 83 percent in 2007 and 84 percent in 2006 – in similar surveys conducted for The Saint Consulting Group in those years.

Development Intelligence is a strategic consultancy that focuses on the politics of planning. The survey was carried out by ComRes, which interviewed 2,035 British adults between 23-25 January 2013 and 411 local councillors between 8-24 January 2013. Comres also conducted the Saint Index UK surveys from 2006-2009.

The survey found that the most NIMBY regions of Britain are the South West, West Midlands, South East and Scotland, all of which were above the national average.  Councillors in the West Midlands and Yorkshire/Humberside were far less NIMBY than their voters, 62 percent and 60 percent, respectively, compared to 91 percent and 87 percent among the public in those regions.

The DI Tracker has provided a wealth of detail to public opposition to development, parsing the views of elected officials and voters by political party, region, age, income and other demographic groups. It reports that the most pro-development (YIMBY) regions are the North East, the North West and Wales. Conservative and Liberal Democrat voters are more NIMBY than Labor voters, and Tory and Lib Dem councilors are significantly more in tune with their political supporters than Labor councilors.

Saint Index results in the US have consistently mirrored the British public’s opposition to new development, although NIMBYism registers slightly more in the UK . Click here for US Saint Index results.

Click here for DI Tracker – Headlines – Final version – Mar 2013.

Nick Keable is chief executive of Development Intelligence, a London-based strategy consultancy that focuses on the politics of planning, email

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