Fiona Howie, Chief Executive of the Town and Country Planning Association has today responded to the Prime Minister’s speech and associated announcements regarding planning reform.
‘While the Prime Minister’s references to building beautiful, low carbon homes, his re-commitment to ‘levelling up’ and his desire to ‘fix the problems that were illuminated during COVID’ are positive, it is totally unclear how the associated announcements around extending permitted development rights will achieve these priorities.
The Prime Minister also committed to radical planning reform, with an emphasis on speeding up the system. If we want to build back better and build back greener, this needs to be central to any planning reform agenda. As does the need to focus on delivering better outcomes for people. Instead of continuing to argue that the planning system is a barrier, decision makers must see planning as a crucial part of the solution. COVID brought to the fore the importance of local green spaces, high quality, genuinely affordable homes. But rather than any indication that these lessons have been learnt much of the investment programme is about traditional infrastructure.
In the past, ‘radical’ planning reform has meant taking democratic accountability out of the system, but you can’t build without community consent. And we can’t aim to revitalise town centres without involving local communities. Steam rolling over people’s views will be divisive and counterproductive. What we have heard from the government today is campaign rhetoric, not real leadership to enable meaningful change to tackle our health, housing and climate crises.’
About the TCPA:
The Town and Country Planning Association campaigns for the reform of the UK’s planning system to make it more responsive to people’s needs and aspirations and to promote sustainable development.
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Earlier this week, TCPA Policy Director Hugh Ellis published a blog exploring what the government’s mooted shift to a zonal planning system could look like, which can be found here.
In February, the TCPA published three key asks from the upcoming planning white paper, which can be found here.