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The Planners

Tue Jan 31, 8-9pm, BBC2

Adam Hopkins

Series one, episode one
Imagine you’ve bought a beautiful Georgian terrace in Cheltenham’s desirable Pittville area. You’ve spent hundreds of thousands of pounds on doing it up still further. But the parking’s a problem. Occasionally, you even graze the flank of your gas-guzzler when trying to manoeuvre it into your drive. Nightmare, right? But the horror is only just beginning. If you want to make any changes to this listed area, you’ve got to engage with The Planners.

This eight-part series following at planning applications and the contentious processes behind them looks like being a rich source of schadenfreude, a feast of nimby-ish, self-righteous, impotent middle England rage. But it has the potential to be vaguely serious and illuminating too. Do the hoops that developers have to jump through constitute necessary checks and balances, or simply layers of pointless bureaucracy? What price desperately needed social housing in a country whose green idylls continue to shrink? And who decides on the location of the thin line between sentimentality and genuine environmental destruction? Equal parts funny and fascinating.