The future of the planning system in England Contents



146.The planning system deals with more than housing. A strong perception in our evidence was that the Government’s proposals unduly concentrate on housing at the expense of other elements of planning. Several submissions listed a series of omissions from the White Paper.472 A first strand of omissions related to economic activities being ignored. These included mineral provision,473 commercial property,474 agriculture,475 local shopping areas,476 London, economic activities, the environment,477 and how the planning reforms are linked to bolstering employment.478 The British Property Federation simply stated “two words absent from the White Paper are ‘commercial property’”.479 A second strand of omissions related to housing—such as specialist housing for the disabled and the elderly (including how to cope with an ageing population),480 the role of credit and the impact of the financialisaton of housing,481 and provision for gypsy and traveller communities.482 A third strand included worries about the omission of transport-related subjects, especially how sustainable transport would be encouraged.483 A fourth strand related to the lack of discussion of other subjects connected to the planning system, such as energy networks,484 and the perceived lack of detail around climate change,485 Green Belt,486 neighbourhood plans,487 and the protections for historic, environmental and architectural buildings,488 and leisure facilities for play and sport.489

The Minister’s response

147.We asked the Minister about these omissions. He stated that the three zones approach “is also designed to make sure that local communities can say what commercial sorts of developments they want in those places to support their local communities.” He pointed to the permitted development rights announcement and funding through the Town Funds and High Streets Fund to show support for commercial spaces. Regarding other omissions he stated that:

I cannot commit to what is going to be in the legislation until we have seen what comes back in the consultation … You have seen the key themes and foci that we have, but that does not mean to say that we will not include other things or refine things as we move through the consultation and toward legislation.490

148.We agree that the Government’s proposals omitted important issues that should be considered in any changes to the planning system. This was particularly true of the lack of consideration of non-housing issues. Different aspects of the planning system cannot be compartmentalised in this way. Housing cannot be treated in isolation from wider infrastructure, economic, leisure, and environmental activities and considerations. Therefore, in advance of a Planning Bill, the Government should include within consultations the expected impact of its proposed reforms to the planning system on:

472 Ashford KALC (Combined parish, town and community organisations in the borough of Ashford, Kent) (FPS0060), Rutland County Council (FPS0071), Peel L&P (FPS0094), City of London Corporation (FPS0148)

473 Mineral Products Association (FPS0050), Rutland County Council (FPS0071)

474 Accessible Retail (FPS0053), Ark Data Centres (FPS0063)

475 Rutland County Council (FPS0071)

476 Robert Rush (FPS0163)

477 Q96 (Claire Dutch)

478 Rutland County Council (FPS0071), Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning & Transport (FPS0114)

479 British Property Federation (FPS0127)

480 Centre for Ageing Better (FPS0055), Rutland County Council (FPS0071)

481 Bartlett School of Planning, University College London (FPS0097)

482 London Gypsies and Travellers (FPS0067), Rutland County Council (FPS0071)

483 Rutland County Council (FPS0071), Mr Simeon Shtebunaev (Doctoral Researcher at Birmingham City University) (FPS0072), POETS (Planning Oxfordshire’s Environment and Transport Sustainably) (FPS0108), Cycling UK (FPS0123)

484 National Grid (FPS0088)

485 Local Government Association (FPS0056), Rutland County Council (FPS0071), North Northamptonshire Joint Planning and Delivery Unit (FPS0147), Greater London Authority (FPS0149)

486 Paul G. Tucker QC (FPS0153)

487 Paul G. Tucker QC (FPS0153)

488 Q100 (Claire Dutch), The Heritage Alliance (FPS0066), District Councils’ Network (FPS0082), North Northamptonshire Joint Planning and Delivery Unit (FPS0147)

489 Mr Simeon Shtebunaev (Doctoral Researcher at Birmingham City University) (FPS0072)

490 Qq133–134 (The Minister)

Published: 10 June 2021 Site information    Accessibility statement