Planning for the future? The Government deregulation of the planning system is announced

The presentation this week of 'Planning for the Future',  the Government's shake-up and de-regulation of  the planning system, has been met with dismay from multiple quarters.  

 Tom Fyans, director of campaigns and policy at CPRE, commented:-

‘The government’s intended reforms sound like a gross oversimplification of the planning system.  First and foremost, our planning process must respond to the needs of communities, both in terms of providing much-needed affordable homes and other vital infrastructure, and green spaces for our health and wellbeing.'

 ‘The planning process as it stands may not be perfect but instead of deregulating planning, the government must invest in planning. Quality development needs a quality planning system with community participation at its heart.

‘The Secretary of State has claimed that these planning reforms will still be very much ‘people-focused’ but that flies in the face of what has been outlined today by the government.  We eagerly await more details and will be joining forces with a range of other housing, planning and environmental campaigning bodies to push back hard on the deregulation agenda, which has never been the answer to the question of how best to boost economic growth.’

Letter to the Prime Minister

CPRE had already written to the Prime Minister jointly with seventeen other charities, including Friends of the Earth, Woodland Trust and RSPB, to warn that his proposed planning laws could be a “deregulatory race to the bottom” with more changes due to the way that the impact on green areas is assessed.

The letter called for  “locally accountable and democratic” planning rather than further deregulation and said:

“Further deregulation of the planning system would erode the foundations of any green and just recovery long before the first brick is laid. Nowhere else in the world is such a deregulatory race to the bottom being considered.

“It would be completely out of touch with the public mood, when two thirds of people reported wanting to see greater protection and investment in local green spaces after lockdown. This surge of appreciation for quality local green spaces is just one indicator of the increased appetite for action to tackle the housing, climate and nature crises head on.”

 The President of the Royal Institute of British Architects, Alan Jones, said:

“While there’s no doubt the planning system needs reform, these shameful proposals do almost nothing to guarantee the delivery of affordable, well-designed and sustainable homes.  While they might help to ‘get Britain building’ – paired with the extension of Permitted Development – there’s every chance they could also lead to the creation of the next generation of slum housing.  The housing crisis isn’t just about numbers, and deregulation won’t solve it.

If the government is serious about addressing the dominant position of large housebuilders and the lack of quality social housing, the Secretary of State needs to make changes to the tax system, look at why land approved for development lies untouched for years, and give local authorities power and resource to promote and safeguard quality.

The commitment to make all new homes carbon neutral by 2050 also needs be brought forward radically – we simply cannot go on building homes that damage the environment and leave people at risk of fuel poverty for another thirty years."

You can access the White Paper 'Planning for the Future' by clicking here.