Planning White Paper gets a mixed reception
The Government's Planning White Paper has received a mixed reception. Based on the recommendations of Kate Barker's review of land use and planning and the Eddington Transport Study, both of which focussed on economic competitiveness without considering social and environmental issues, the Paper has alarmed environmental and countryside groups. They fear the proposals will make it quicker and easier to develop Major Infrastructure Projects, such as power stations, large supermarkets and housing estates on green field land.
There are also concerns that communities will no longer have any say in if and where such developments are sited.
Organisations involved in the construction industry, however, have responded more positively. Stewart Baseley, of the Home Builders Federation, commented "Better, stronger, faster. The Planning White Paper is not the six million dollar man but it should help give Britain the planning system it needs. Positive use of Planning Performance Agreements could help incentivise local authorities to bring forward the land needed to deliver sustainable homes".
The Combined Heat and Power Association (CHPA) also thought the planning shake up could be of benefit. The group want to see the organisers of the "National Policy Frameworks" and regional development agencies, who are developing regional spatial strategies, take full advantage of the environmental and social benefits of decentralised energy.
Phillip Piddington, Director of the CHPA commented: "It is a hugely exciting prospect. The Ministers that are responsible for the "National Policy Frameworks", and the local authorities who draw up regional spatial strategies, will now have a unique opportunity to maximise the energy efficiency of the UK's inner towns and cities. CHP already plays a prominent role within many communities, yet now it seems there is the opportunity to realise an even greater potential".
"The White Paper has set a planning framework in which CHP can thrive. If central government and local communities use a joined up approach, CHP must be central to these visions".
The Council for the Preservation of Rural England (CPRE), one of the UK's oldest and most respected environmental bodies, along with a coalition of other groups including Friends of the Earth, were less than happy with the White Paper, however.
Marina Pacheco, CPRE’s Head of Planning said: ‘This Planning White Paper has the potential to radically change the character of the urban and rural environment by putting the needs of business first. There are plenty of words in it about the environment, climate change and quality of life, but we question whether they are being given enough weight in what is proposed here.
"Despite calls from a wide variety of conservation and civic charities for the Government to reconsider its proposals for speeding up the planning and building of major infrastructure – such as motorways, big power stations, runways, ports, waste incinerators and reservoirs – these proposals are going ahead without significant changes".
Marina Pacheco continued: ‘We fear the proposals for Major Infrastructure Projects will reduce the level of real community involvement in deciding what gets built in their local area. It has the potential to result in a ‘twin track’ approach where scheme promoters and large environmental organisations will engage in consultation but individuals and communities will find it difficult to have their voices heard.
CPRE is also worried that the proposed Independent Planning Commission’s membership will be strongly influenced by economics and won’t have enough people with a robust environmental background.’
The Planning White Paper now enters a consultation period of less than 3 months, before the proposals become enshrined in law as a fully fledged Planning Bill. CPRE believe the Planning White Paper should be seen as a work in progress. Pacheco concluded "We hope to be able to work with the Government over the coming weeks to prevent changes in the planning system which would lead to unsustainable development.’
back to top