We’ve all spent the last 6 years battling the National Planning Policy Framework and realising that it is a law written for developers and landowners (many of whom have strong connections to MPs and members of the House of Lords).
Now there may be something new on the horizon. A root and branch review of the English planning system has been announced.
This will be led by former Labour housing and planning minister Nick Raynsford and aims to see how the planning system can be made ‘fairer, better resourced and capable of tackling the major challenges which confront the nation’.
The review has been motivated by “widespread concerns” that the planning process is unable to deliver places that successfully balance the needs of economy, environment and community wellbeing.
The Raynsford review has aims to work out how we can deliver better place making through a fairer and more effective planning system and to set out a new vision for planning in England and rebuild trust in the planning process by communicating with the public as well as professionals.
There has been growing criticism of the current system on the grounds that it is out of touch with ordinary people’s lives and is not fit for purpose in securing lasting progress on key aspects of the economy, meeting housing needs, and tackling climate change.
Outcomes for communities, the environment and the economy have been mixed, and there is growing concern about the quality of new development. The planning system remains legally complex and seems incapable of dealing with pressing social issues.
Launching a call for evidence, Mr Raynsford - who is also president of the Town and Country Planning Association - said: “More than ever we need a planning system which commands the confidence of the public and delivers outcomes of which we can feel proud.
“After too many years of piecemeal changes and tinkering with the system, we need to go back to first principles and seek to develop a practical blueprint for the future of planning in England. That is the objective of this review.”
The review is kicking off with a formal call for evidence and the promise of a series of ‘engagement events’ over the next 18 months – with the first in York on 11 July.
We look forward to an event in Oxfordshire when we can engage.