Planning system is claiming another victim
It is really quite incredible that the debate over whether a service station should be built on Walford Hall Farm near Solihull goes back to 1969.
Strictly speaking it has only been continuously proposed since 1992, but that's still almost 30 years.
I'm thinking about this because this week it was announced that the decision on the plans has been pushed back another 18 months.
The problem is there are many reasons to argue against it. Green fields are something to treasure. this is a busy road which must be modified with care and there are arguments in favour of other locations.
There is also a big reason to argue in favour of it - it's needed. We're talking about a country with a large gap between existing facilities, and a severe shortage of HGV parking places.
As a historian, I am natrually programmed to argue against new developments. The status quo is what I find interesting. But there are places where the status quo is clearly not working, and this is one of them.
It's only right that we have a robust planning system that forces developers to design something that minimises its impact on the surrounding area. I believe strongly in that.
If Highways England really believe that the chosen road layout is not appropiate - and they may well be right - then that tells us that the whole system of having land developers design road layouts isn't working. They've been working on this for 30 years, remember.
I am the first to complain about unnecessary development, I do realise that. But planning systems need to make allowances for developments that are not just necessary, but vital for road safety.
In fact every year since 1969, highway authorities should have been jumping up and down, shouting "this is needed". Instead they decline to comment, for fear of upsetting residents or showing undue support for a private business.
What kind of road safety policy is that?
Johnathan Randall is the editor of Motorway Services Online.