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Column 6th October 2021

Planning is a scapegoat for failing the Housing Crisis

POETS (Planning Oxfordshire’s Environment & Transport Sustainably) have recently published another paper on Planning and the Housing Crisis.

POETS are a group of planning, environment and transport professionals and academics focused primarily on planning and transport issues in Oxfordshire.  (For more information go to www.poetsplanningoxon.uk).

POETS have produced this paper because:
- “the Government’s proposed Planning Bill and continuing extensions to permitted development rights are likely to further weaken the planning system’s ability to address these issues,” and
- “the housing crisis is critically important in Oxfordshire, where very high rates of both housing and economic growth are proposed”.

As you know, if you are a regular reader of this column, the Government is consulting on an Oxford-Cambridge Arc, and the Oxfordshire Growth Board is consulting on a Strategic Plan for the County called Oxfordshire 2050.

In the new paper POETS explain that they believe that “the planning system has been a scapegoat for government failures and that, instead, planning is an essential part of the solution to this and other related crises, especially climate change, public health, social inequality and social care.”

They point out that “Oxfordshire is on the sharp end of these issues, with Government planning to nearly double the county’s population in the next 30 years. Oxfordshire residents will need to make their views known about the Ox-Cam Arc and Oxfordshire 2050.”

They say that “it is increasingly difficult for the public to influence local planning by traditional means using the representation process, because Government and the planning process are so heavily skewed in favour of private landowners and large housebuilders”

They suggest that “Government needs to deal jointly with the housing crisis, the climate crisis, the Covid-19 pandemic and inequality at a scale comparable to that of the wartime Coalition Government.

“All housing, both existing and new, needs to be zero carbon; well-located in terms of facilities, services and employment; and large enough inside and outside.

“Homes should be where they are really needed, enabling occupiers to travel by walking, cycling or public transport in ‘15 minute neighbourhoods’ via walking, cycling and public transport.”

They, like us, believe that local authorities are best placed to know local needs, and a properly-funded planning system can deliver housing, transport and green spaces fit for the future and that more, not less, democracy is required.

We should be reminding Councillors and MPs that only a holistic solution will solve our problems.


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