CIEH calls for changes to planning reform proposals

30 November 2020, Ross Matthewman

CIEH has called for changes to the UK Government’s proposals to reform the planning system in England. 

The proposals were set out in the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government’s (MHCLG) Planning for the future consultation which closed at the end of October. 

The consultation proposes reforms of the planning system to streamline and modernise the planning process, bring a new focus to design and sustainability, improve the system of developer contributions to infrastructure, and ensure more land is available for development where it is needed.

However, CIEH has raised concerns over a number of areas in the proposals most notably relating to public engagement, permitted development, and local authority resources. 

  • Faster decisions for all applications and presumed permission for development in ‘growth’ and ‘renewal’ areas leaves little or no room for local input into individual decisions
  • Research commissioned by MHCLG into the differences between residential dwellings built via the permitted development route compared to the normal planning route revealed the permitted development route creates worse quality residential units
  • Environmental impact assessments would be simplified, potentially reducing oversight of factors like local air quality and noise aspects in the application, which could affect occupiers of buildings down the line
  • Penalising local authorities when they lose appeals on planning decisions will deplete local resources even further by encouraging more appeals by all applicants. Resources at local authorities are already stretched and planning departments are likely to make poor quality decisions as a result of these proposals

Having officially responded to the consultation, CIEH has now also created a parliamentary briefing for MPs and Peers highlighting the key concerns and changes necessary to improve on the current proposals.  

Tamara Sandoul, Policy and Campaigns Manager at CIEH, said:

“Housing built today and in the future needs to capitalise on the potential to improve people’s health and wellbeing, through good design, quality of build as well as being situated in an appropriate place. 

Although we welcome the Government’s aim to improve the current planning system, we have highlighted a number of serious concerns with the Government’s proposals as they currently stand. 

Whilst attempts to improve the efficiency of the planning system are commendable, it cannot be done through shutting out community engagement, by waiving through unsuitable conversions, or by encouraging inappropriate decisions by penalising local authorities.  Most importantly, the health of future occupiers needs to feature more in the proposals.

CIEH is calling on MPs and Peers from across the political spectrum to ensure that improvements are made to the current proposals. 

Housing that contributes to the health and wellbeing of the nation will help to reduce costs to the NHS and to society in the long term. It is vital that we get this right.”

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