Government urged to rethink parts of planning proposals

A coalition of 18 organisations has urged the government to rethink major elements of its controversial planning proposals and work with stakeholders to deliver a planning system that puts people, climate and nature at its heart.

The group of 18 housing, planning, transport, environmental, heritage and public health organisations have worked together to forge their own alternative ‘Vision for planning’ in response to the government’s Planning White Paper, published in August last year. The government is expected to make a further announcement in March about whether and how it will take forward the proposals in the White Paper.

The joint ‘Vision for planning’ argues that the planning system should be democratic and place local communities at the centre, be locally-led and have sustainable development at its heart.

In addition to this, the system should: tackle the biodiversity crisis; deliver enough quality affordable and social homes for rent to meet local needs; ensure beautiful, quality places that are in keeping with local character; and help tackle the climate emergency.

Tom Fyans, deputy chief executive of CPRE, the countryside charity, said: “We’re calling on the government to plan back better and work with us to develop a planning system that puts people, and tackling the climate and ecological emergencies, at its heart. We all deserve a home we can genuinely afford to live in and to have a say in shaping the communities around us.

“And for over 70 years, a toolbox has been in place to make sure that can happen: the planning system. But as things stand, under the government’s current proposals, the opportunity to influence what happens and where in our communities would be halved.

“Before Christmas, the government announced a welcome revision of its housing numbers ‘algorithm’. However, this was only one small part of a range of potentially damaging proposals put forward by the government last year. That’s why we’re calling on ministers to take an equally pragmatic approach to improve policies relating to community voice, affordable homes and access to green spaces. Together, we can develop a planning system fit for the 21st century.”

David Renard, Local Government Association housing spokesperson, said: “To ensure a successful recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, communities need stability and certainty in planning. This can only be achieved through a locally-led, well-resourced planning system where communities have a proper say over developments in their local area. This means local areas having oversight of issues that matter to them most such as protecting the environment and ensuring new developments are climate-friendly for current and future generations.

“The government should also hand back power to communities by removing permitted development rights, which allow homes to be built without planning permission, and without any requirement to include affordable homes supported by the right infrastructure.”