The planning white paper proposes significant reform to the English planning system, at a time when efficiencies and a need for modernisation has become most apparent. The covid-19 pandemic has also provided an insight into how we could use our homes in the future, the importance of our environment, and the urgency to address climate change.
We support the government’s ambition to place high quality development at the centre of a strategy to build our way out of a potential recession and the ongoing housing crisis. In our role, guiding schemes for over 200,000 new homes and communities UK wide every year, we recognise the fine balance of limited Local Authority resourcing, and the need to build community support alongside investor risk, as well as the importance of genuine, sustainable and high-quality placemaking. So what, how and where do we build?
As a headline response to this white paper therefore, we would ask the government to consider the following key points:
- In driving to secure an efficient and fast planning system we must ensure that we do not deliver an approach which further reinforces generic, ‘planning by numbers’ style approaches, or is fundamentally undermined by a lack of resource or skills within the Local Authorities tasked with delivery.
- In seeking to guide and deliver higher quality ‘beautiful’ places, including through Design Codes (which are but one tool), we must ensure that we do not undermine our ability to secure innovation and variety.
- In seeking to front-load the process we must be mindful that we are not burdening the local plan process with too much upfront cost which will undermine any ambitions to broaden to SME participants and limit the consideration of alternative and scrutiny thereof.
- In undertaking a reboot of how we deliver planning across the country we must carefully consider operational behaviours as well as the system itself. We, and many in our industry, believe there are existing comprehensive methods and processes for achieving efficiency that are not being utilised and there is therefore a danger that additional change will also not succeed.
- In seeking to drive a step change in delivery, we must ensure there is a sufficiently strategic level vision to guide everything and secure both cohesion and credibility.
Read and share our full response below:
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The Planning White Paper, Planning for The Future, Planning Reform, UK Housing, Build Back Better