Building better places Contents

Chapter 6: Local leadership, delivery and skills

The local role in the built environment

353.As we have discussed, while national policy can set a robust framework for delivering and maintaining high-quality built environments, the ultimate power to shape the built environment often still lies at local level. As planning authorities, local councils set policies and make decisions on planning applications; many also own and manage significant quantities of the local housing stock, and play an active part in regeneration initiatives, often in partnership with the private sector.

354.Following the removal of Regional Spatial Strategies328 councils in most of England now have sole responsibility for local planning in their areas, including determining the level of need for new development and identifying suitable locations. There remains a wider strategic plan in place for the Greater London area,329 and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority - comprising the 10 metropolitan boroughs of Greater Manchester - is also formulating its own joint spatial framework on a similar model.330

355.Initiatives such as neighbourhood planning, introduced in the Localism Act 2011, have also encouraged greater community involvement in the development process, including identifying locations for new sustainable growth.

356.The interaction between national policy and local leadership is therefore of key importance in achieving successful and sustainable built environments. There should be a particular focus on proactivity at a local level, and in ensuring that local government and other stakeholders have the power, confidence and influence they need to shape the built environment in a way which supports growth and works for local communities.

357.This chapter discusses in further detail some of the policy changes that could be made at both national, and local, levels to support local leadership in the built environment.

Skills, local vision and ‘proactive planning’

358.We heard a range of evidence suggesting that local authorities could go beyond their statutory function and embrace a more proactive approach to planning. Max Farrell, who worked on the Farrell Review of Architecture and the Built Environment, told us that:

“One of the key things that we called for in the Farrell Review was more proactive planning, to have a more consistent approach to things like affordable housing levels, shape, form and even materials of buildings, so that people know and agree in advance that that is the right way to go”.331

359.The Planning Officers’ Society set out some of the main components of proactive planning, including increased certainty through active masterplanning in growth areas; accelerating delivery by frontloading place-making input at the pre-application stage; raising the quality of projects and places by the integration of place-making expertise with plan-making, development management and council-led capital projects; strengthening local support by proactive and ongoing engagement with communities on shaping plans for their local area; and securing external funding and inward investment by putting forward a compelling case to potential backers.332

360.The Planning Officers’ Society also made a series of more concrete proposals for promoting proactive planning in local authorities, including the establishment of a “Public Service” pilot (since renamed The Place Agency) which would train and develop ‘place-making practitioners’ who would then be available to local authorities to gain the benefit of their expertise. The practitioners would be offered at “affordable rates”, subsidised through private sector support.333 Public Service would be established as a social enterprise, and is intended to be launched as a pilot scheme in London this year with the support of the Greater London Authority.334

361.We also saw evidence of the benefits of a more proactive approach to planning in our visit to Birmingham City Council. We were told about the Big City Plan, a document setting out a clear long-term vision for the city centre area, including priorities for growth and the direction of resources, which had been developed outside the statutory planning processes.335 We were also told that the council’s Director of Planning and Regeneration was responsible for a larger team than would normally be the case in a planning department, incorporating cross-cutting areas of council responsibility.336 In addition, we were informed that the Council’s past decision to break the ‘concrete collar’ of the inner ring road—including raised walkways and new access points—had improved the accessibility and permeability of the city centre, in conjunction with new pedestrian schemes and canalside regeneration initiatives.337

362.In essence, this is about vision; councils should be able to set out and define a vision for the built environment in their area, and should then plan proactively to deliver that vision. This may include the more widespread use of design frameworks, strategies or masterplans to clarify development priorities and assist developers in coming forward with site proposals. Such frameworks aid local authorities by providing specific expression to local plan objectives, and helps developers by reducing the cost of upfront site delivery work.

363.While the issue of council proactivity in planning and the built environment cannot be separated from the issue of council resources (see paragraph 372), we believe there is a compelling case for all levels of government to encourage and enable such an approach, recognising its benefits for place-making.

364.The ability to deliver such initiatives at a local level is, however, compromised by skills shortages, on which we received a considerable amount of evidence. Finn Williams noted that problems with public sector planning skills went back several years:

“The skills shortages that we are talking about are not only post-2008, they go much further back; they are long-standing and systemic. For me, they are not purely about resources; they are about what we think planning is for. In 1976, half of all architects worked for the public sector; it was what public sector planning was for. Now it is less than 2%”.338

365.Urban Vision Enterprise highlighted the lack of key local authority skills:

“There is also a need for national government to set out more clearly the skills requirements required by local authorities to deal with planning applications in a competent manner. We are especially concerned that some LPAs339 do not have adequate skills in urban design, building conservation and other built environment matters”.340

366.Much of the evidence we received focused on the need to bring in a new generation of planners and built environment professionals, in coordination with schools, technical colleges and universities. Proposed initiatives included the Public Service proposal from the Planning Officers’ Society discussed above. On our visit to Birmingham we also heard evidence of the strong relationship between the City Council and local universities, including the mutual benefits derived from work-placements for students.

367.Professor Mark Tewdwr-Jones told us that, given the ongoing shortage of public sector skills, universities had a role in developing some of the background knowledge and expertise around the built environment which might previously have been fulfilled by local authorities:

“Local authority planning departments are a shadow of their former selves these days; they have been hollowed out. The question then is: where does the intelligence and data come from to inform policy-making and to create some advantage for places to shape their own future? In Newcastle, the university has stepped into that vacuum to some extent by providing the expertise and the knowledge, but there is intelligence, there is mapping and there is data, and it is essential that the public consultation—the democratic element—is there as well”.341

368.We heard evidence on the high status and priority given to planning in French universities. There is a particular focus on city layouts, transportation and planning laws, and effective use is made of regular field trips. We were told that this left France well qualified to handle both regional and town planning.342

369.While the evidence is clear that proactive planning can help secure attractive and sustainable built environments and ease the delivery of development objectives, the evidence is also clear that the planning sector is running into serious capacity constraints. Any initiative to support proactivity in planning must also address long-standing personnel shortages in order that such initiatives can fulfil their potential.

370.Proactive local planning can play an important part in defining a ‘vision’ for a local area and improving the built environment. Local authorities should consider mechanisms that would help them to develop the capacity to do this, including the potential for working outside the statutory planning system to raise the status of planning and regeneration in their area. This might include the production of design frameworks, masterplans or strategies. National and local government should also take steps to increase the capacity of the planning sector as a whole, including through educational outreach programmes as well as partnerships with the private sector, universities and neighbouring authorities.

371.We recommend that the Government should consider how best it might support the development of place-making capacity within local authorities. The Government, and local authorities, should consider the merits of supporting the Public Service initiative proposed by the Planning Officers’ Society, and the introduction of bursaries to students of planning in a similar manner to that offered to the teaching profession in order to help attract the best students.

Resourcing and capacity

372.A persistent and recurring theme of our inquiry has been the declining resources available to local authorities to support planning and place-making. This has the potential to compromise both statutory functions such as development management and non-statutory approaches such as the “proactive planning” models discussed above and pursued in areas such as Birmingham, Southwark and Croydon.

373.Part—though not all—of the decline in resources can be attributed to Government financial measures. The National Housing Federation, for example, informed us that planning departments had seen a 46% cut in funding between 2010/11 and 2014/15, while the number of applications received in that time has remained consistent.343

374.The Planning Officers’ Society noted that “the pressure on local authority budgets means that planning departments are increasingly retrenching to focus resources on statutory or fee-paying services”.344 This was echoed in evidence from private sector consultancies: Jones Lang LaSalle told us that constraints on local authority planning resources were one of the principal constraints on the development industry, along with shortages of young people entering the industry and similar resource limitations at the Planning Inspectorate.345

375.We also heard evidence that resource cuts had led to a reduction in public sector expertise in other sectors of built environment policy, such as conservation officers. Historic England told us that there had been a 35% fall in the number of conservation specialists advising local authorities since 2006.346 The Suffolk Preservation Society told us that this meant “that at a time of unprecedented development pressures both the capacity and expertise within planning departments is deficient”.347

376.One cause of the deficiency in local government resources is the national planning fee regime. This prescribes a defined national rate for each different type of planning application including outline, reserved matters, small householder applications, change of use applications and “prior approval” applications (which are not required to go through the full planning determination process). These fees can only be amended nationally through regulations.348 The set fees do not always cover the true cost of processing and determining a planning application.

377.We heard a strong consensus that local authorities should be able to set planning fees locally, to enable “full cost recovery” of the cost of processing applications, and secure a more efficient and effective planning service in local authorities. Short of this, some respondents called for an immediate uplift to the national rate. We were told that:

“Planning fees currently cover only 59% of the costs of providing an effective and efficient planning system—leading to an annual shortfall of £156.2 million. The most immediate and essential first step in putting planning department resourcing on a more sustainable footing would be to realign fees at a national level to allow for full cost recovery, with an automatic rise for inflation”.349

378.Evidence on the potential merits of planning fee reform also came from representatives of the private sector, including the Confederation of British Industry:

“Business and Government must find ways to help planners reach decisions in a prompt manner. There is some discussion in the business community about the pros and cons of paying higher planning fees if there are assurances of timely and quality decisions”.350

379.Councillor Gillian Brown, of Arun District Council and the District Councils Network, made the case for full localisation:

“We have put forward a very robust case for at least two years to have full cost recovery on planning fees—to set our own local planning fees … We want to be cost neutral, but I do not think the Treasury trusts us to do that. It is very counterproductive not to be able to recruit and retain good planning officers”.351

Gateshead Metropolitan Borough Council also noted that “prior approvals” attracted significantly lower fees despite taking a similar amount of officer time to full planning applications.352

380.The Housing and Planning Minister indicated that the Government was reviewing the issue of planning fees, though he highlighted some of the Government’s reservations with regard to full devolution:

“Generally with planning fees, the reticence has always been around making sure we keep planning cost effective … I am sure there are no local authorities out there—and I say this with only part of my tongue in my cheek—that would use the planning fees, if it had complete freedom over them, either to price development in its area out of the market or to line its coffers, but we have to look at all these things”.353

381.On 8 February 2016 the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government announced that the Government would consult on proposals to allow “well-performing planning departments” the opportunity to increase fees by inflation, so long as the increase reduced the cross-subsidy of the planning function from general council funds.354

382.We also heard evidence on other ways in which local authorities could increase revenue to reinvest in planning services. The London Borough of Barnet told us how its own outsourced service generated revenue from commercial activity and fast-tracking applications:

“You can now fast track a planning application at a premium price. We are the only council in the country doing that at the moment. We offer premium services on pre-application advice; we now have specialist teams on pre-application advice … we also offer private consultancy work”.355

The Council made clear that it was only possible to offer a premium fast-track service if the ‘standard’ service was already performing to a high level.

383.We recommend that the Government should explore how a localised fee regime would help local authorities to deliver a more efficient planning service, with less direct public subsidy. In this context, the Government should also explore how local fees might be regulated to ensure that planning applications remain cost-effective for applicants.

384.Meanwhile, national fees should be set at a level which moves closer to “full cost recovery” for local authorities. The Government should also consider a fee uplift to cover the cost of prior approval applications.

385.We also recommend that local authorities should explore the potential for commercial activity and premium planning services such as the fast tracking of applications, in order to increase revenue for their planning departments.

The local plan making process

386.As discussed above, the changes made through the introduction of the National Planning Policy Framework and other national legislative and policy reforms have placed a greater onus on local authorities to identify, plan for and help to meet the demand for growth in their areas.

387.The principal document by which local decisions are guided is the local plan. There is no statutory requirement to have an up to date local plan, although the Government has indicated that it will intervene where an authority does not have a local plan in place by 2017.356 Where a local plan is not in place, planning applications are determined by reference to the NPPF.

388.Adoption of local plans has improved in recent years, with Ruth Stanier of the Department for Communities and Local Government noting in oral evidence that 82% of local authorities have some form of published local plan, with 64% having an adopted plan in place.357

389.Nonetheless, we have heard suggestions—including from the Government—that the current process for local plan making is too cumbersome and that, in practice, local plans are often unable to keep up local conditions or with national policy.358

390.Those who called for a streamlining of the local plan-making system included the Greater London Authority and the Institute of Historic Building Conservation.359 The Government confirmed that initiatives to streamline the system were under consideration.360

391.We received evidence on the problems caused for local authorities when housing need figures are updated,361 often rendering local plans obsolete. Gillian Brown, of Arun District Council and the District Councils Network, highlighted the effect of the problem in her authority, in particular with reference to the requirement for councils to identify sufficient land to meet local housing need for the subsequent five years, known as the “five year land supply”.

“Many local authorities lost their five year land supply when these new figures came out in March with these massive housing numbers … in my own district, we had just finished our local plan, as we call it, and on the inspector’s desk when the new figures suddenly arrived within a couple of weeks. Now our plan has been suspended and we are looking at having to produce at least 200 houses more per year for the next 20 years. That has a massive impact on us”.362

392.Councillor Brown also observed that, having spent a considerable amount on the preparation of the local plan, the loss of its “five-year land supply” following the publication of new housing figures meant that speculative planning applications in the district would be granted on appeal as the council was unable to demonstrate suitable alternative locations for housing development over a five-year period. This had the effect of undermining the local plan process and encouraging unsustainable development in inappropriate locations.363

393.The Campaign to Protect Rural England suggested that many components of local plans are well established and require little effort to review and refine:

“When you drill down into it, a lot of these so-called far too long and detailed policies are actually well established policies that do not involve too much of local authorities’ effort in reviewing and updating. They are policies, for example, such as the protection of local wildlife sites and policies that show what the landscape character of an area is and how it should be best protected”.364

394.We also noted evidence of how plan-led systems operate overseas. For example, the Town and Country Planning Association informed us of its effectiveness in the Netherlands:

“The success of Almere and those places is having a very strong progressive plan. People buy into that plan and the plan is then delivered through development corporations and other mechanisms through the public sector. That was the framework; of course, they got that framework from us”.365

Friends of the Earth cited the German town of Freiburg im Breisgau as an example of effective plan-making with community participation:

“It is the people (the citizens) of Freiburg with whom the vision for the future is made through planning. The plan is then presented to the builders and developers, and the negotiation starts on delivery. In many cases the city contracts out work, but holds control of the plan and design. The results speak for themselves—it is one of the most popular places to live in Germany and one of the most successful”.366

395.The plan-led system remains the most appropriate approach for delivering successful built environment policy locally, and we do not believe there should be a fundamental change to the status of local plan making. However, we are persuaded by the evidence that the process of adopting and reviewing local plans is too cumbersome. This was particularly the case with regard to fluctuating housing need figures, which form the basis of local plan assessments and so, if altered, can render them immediately obsolete.

396.We welcome the Government’s review of the Local Plan process with its mandate to identify how the process may be streamlined. In particular, we believe there should be a capacity for partial or incremental reviews to ensure that local plans can be kept more dynamically up to date with changing circumstances, and that they continue to play the role intended in planning decision-making. National and local government should look overseas for examples of excellence in plan-making and seek to emulate the example of places such as Almere and Freiburg im Breisgau where appropriate.

397.The fundamental approach of a plan-led system should remain unaltered, but national and local government should explore opportunities to make local plan-making more dynamic and responsive to changing conditions. The Government should consider the introduction of additional measures to allow for the partial review, or incremental adoption, of local plans, to avoid the need for a lengthy, resource intensive full plan review when underlying circumstances change.

Spatial frameworks and ‘larger than local’ planning

398.We received a range of evidence on the impact of the Coalition Government’s decision to revoke Regional Spatial Strategies and return responsibility for strategic planning to local authorities. Evidence considered the way in which matters previously addressed at the regional level—such as cross-boundary and larger-than-local issues—were now being handled. The duty to co-operate placed upon local authorities by the Localism Act 2011 also featured in consideration of these matters.

399.While the main responsibility for planning lies with local authorities, some decisions with cross-boundary significance must necessarily be taken in consultation with others. How these ‘larger than local’ built environment matters should best be addressed was the subject of a significant amount of evidence we received.

400.Unlike many other countries, England does not have a national spatial plan or a statutory regional planning framework, the latter having been abolished following the passage of the Localism Act in 2011. National or regional spatial plans are used to define wider priorities for land-use and to allocate development sites of strategic importance. Scotland retains a national spatial plan, while regional plans were in place across much of England until their abolition. The exception is Greater London which retains a statutory strategic plan, produced by the Greater London Authority.

401.The principle of strategic planning in England has been retained through the “duty to co-operate” set out in the National Planning Policy Framework, which further states that “the Government expects joint working on areas of common interest to be diligently undertaken for the mutual benefit of neighbouring authorities”.367

402.To this end, local authorities must demonstrate in producing their local plans that they have consulted neighbouring authorities on matters such as housing and infrastructure needs, and that they have acted on any outcomes of these discussions in formulating their local plans. Where no such cooperation is demonstrated, local plans may be rejected by the Planning Inspector.

403.The Town and Country Planning Association argued that some form of national or regional planning framework was essential to deliver successful built environments:

“We are one of the very few advanced economies that have neither comprehensive national planning nor regional planning … the process of planning is about the messy business of trying to mediate change. Having some sense of engagement with that change at a national level simply reflects functional geography, and geography is something that is absent from public policy at the moment”.368

404.The TCPA and Professor Mark Tewdwr-Jones also noted that the regional planning process was supported by built environment data which had been lost since its abolition.369 Innovate UK argued that a benefit of spatial planning at a national level would be to establish a single source of supporting data on matters such as economic growth, transport and historic land usage which could be used to inform development planning.370 The Landscape Institute argued that the aspirations of the NPPF could only be achieved by some form of regional spatial planning. It stated:

“The effects of sub national [eg. regional] spatial plans would include the co-ordinated delivery of housing need, availability and effective targeting of investment, appropriate planning of linear infrastructure such as rail, road and energy transmission and environmental protection/improvement”.371

405.The current Government has been clear that there is no intention to return to a system of mandatory national or regional spatial frameworks. The Department for Communities and Local Government made clear its objection to the concept, stating that: “The Government does not consider that it is necessary to have a national spatial plan in England”.372

406.In some parts of England, however, groups of local authorities are coming together to produce voluntary joint spatial frameworks. Councillor Sue Derbyshire of Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority told us about the proposals for a combined spatial plan across Greater Manchester:

“In terms of Greater Manchester, we are doing at least the overall plan on a Greater Manchester footprint, although there will still need to be local plans, because that is a coherent economic structure. We need to look at place. Planning is very important, but it is only an aspect of regeneration and of place building”.373

407.We received some evidence criticising the operation of the duty to co-operate, a prevalent view being that it was not an adequate substitute for more formal cooperation on spatial planning. Locality argued that it also had the effect of undermining the planning system:

“The ‘duty to co-operate’ between local authorities has proved ineffective in many cases. Only through the failure of local plans has it been recognised by Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) that the duty to co-operate is instead leading to delays in the adoption of local plans, which has led to developer led planning in areas of high demand”.374

408.The Crown Estate informed us that the duty to co-operate also posed problems for landowners and developers, though they took the view that the removal of regional planning made the development process simpler:

“We are finding that authorities of maybe different political persuasions find it quite hard to work together to deal with quite difficult development issues. They often concern issues such as greenbelt, major housing leases in more difficult areas of the country, a whole variety of issues on which we would quite like government to add some additional push in making that duty a bit stronger”.375

409.In some parts of the country, however, the duty to co-operate is working successfully. We were told about positive progress in Sussex:

“We spoke to each other—members and officers. We had a good working relationship. We came together as a strategic planning board and we achieved something. We put forward our proposals and, yes, it worked very well. But we were taking into account a functional economic area rather than county boundaries … that is why ours was successful: because we were an actual economic area”.376

410.The Housing and Planning Minister told us that he welcomed groups of local authorities who sought to undertake joint spatial planning on their own initiative:

“As a government we got rid of regional spatial strategies, and I have no desire or intention to go anywhere near bringing them back. The difference with what is happening in London, and indeed what Manchester is looking to do, and what other areas may choose to do, is by coming together and looking on a wider basis as an area region, or whatever the structure is, it is driven by them locally … I think that is a very sensible thing for them to do, but what is important is it is them doing it, which matters”.377

411.We have received a clear indication from the Government that there is no intention to revive regional—or national—spatial planning. We are, however, persuaded by the evidence from Sussex and Greater Manchester that, where councils come together to co-operate voluntarily on spatial planning matters, such an approach can yield positive results in development planning and aid the cause of sustainable growth. We note the Minister’s comments in support of such voluntary initiatives.

412.We believe that local authorities should explore working together on joint spatial frameworks on the model of Greater Manchester, and that the Government should give them further encouragement to do so.

413.Such approaches may not, however, be suitable in all parts of the country. In these circumstances, the Government should provide stronger incentives and guidance to ensure that local authorities co-operate effectively on cross-boundary planning matters and that the operation of the “duty to co-operate” does not create blockages and delays in the wider planning system.

Community engagement and neighbourhood planning

414.Another key tenet of the Government’s planning reforms has been the attempt to promote community and neighbourhood engagement in planning and the built environment. The most conspicuous example of this has been the introduction of neighbourhood planning, by which designated neighbourhood forums and Parish Councils can set priorities and policies for growth and development in their localities, which are then adopted as formal planning policy, subject to a confirmatory referendum.

415.The Housing and Planning Minister told us that, since the introduction of neighbourhood planning, 125 areas have put an adopted plan in place with a further 1,600 plans currently going through the consultation process. We were also told that every plan to have reached the referendum stage had been approved to date.378

416.We heard positive evidence of the impact of neighbourhood planning from Bath & North East Somerset Council, who suggested that it had changed the attitude of local communities to planning for future growth in the built environment:

“We have advised them that being in control of development in their communities is the way forward for them, which they have understood, and they have done a phenomenal amount of work locally on local village character assessments. For the first time … our villages are offering us housing sites … nearly all our villages are happy to propose a site if it is a product of the work they have done locally”.379

417.However, it was also noted that neighbourhood planning risked being undermined by speculative development applications made before plans were able to be adopted:

“If a developer comes forward midway through the process and puts an application in that is not bad enough to refuse, it usurps the local community’s hard work, and some of them are quite disillusioned with this process where there is a lot of development pressure. The fault is that there is an inability in the system to give any weight to an emerging plan that a community is producing”.380

418.We also heard evidence noting the limitations of the neighbourhood planning model including, for example, the geographic imbalance in the areas where it was being pursued. Worcestershire County Council told us that:

“Only those communities which have people willing to take action—very often in rural and affluent areas—tend to be successful in this process. This creates a very patchy distribution of neighbourhood plans, with areas of higher need and urban areas often left out of the process”.381

419.CPRE also indicated that obstacles in the system meant that the take-up of neighbourhood planning had been lower than anticipated:

“Progress in the actual making of neighbourhood plans (as distinct from the designation of neighbourhood areas) has however been much slower than officials originally hoped, and CPRE believes that much of this is due to either (i) the lack of up to date Local Plans in many areas, or (ii) direct challenges by developers, or both. In several cases, neighbourhood planning initiatives have been frustrated or undermined by developers looking to promote large housing sites against local wishes, but encouraged by policies in the NPPF”.382

420.We believe there is a case for Government and local authorities to promote neighbourhood planning more widely, particularly in areas where take-up has been lower, in order to correct geographic imbalances. This may include the commitment of resources to pursue the establishment of neighbourhood forums across districts.

421.We recommend that the Government should give stronger weight to emerging neighbourhood plans in planning policy, to enable rejection of speculative development which might conflict with the neighbourhood plan.

422.We recommend that the Government, and local authorities, should take measures to streamline and simplify the neighbourhood planning process, and provide resources for promoting the establishment of neighbourhood forums and supporting the neighbourhood planning process in areas where take-up has been low.

423.We also heard a range of evidence on other aspects of community engagement in the built environment, with Parish Councils in particular expressing frustration that the views of communities were not taken seriously.383 MADE West Midlands offered the following assessment of local authority community engagement:

“There are some exemplary cases of community engagement, people working with communities from scratch with a blank sheet of paper to design new places, new developments, urban extensions and so on. Aside from those good examples, the overall picture is very poor. It is often tokenistic and manipulative. We talked about the difficulty of engagement in local plans, but engagement around particular schemes is often very poor”.384

424.The Confederation of British Industry, Royal Town Planning Institute, Locality and Urban Vision Enterprises emphasised that early engagement could allow communities greater opportunities to exert influence over development proposals and local plans.385 We believe that early engagement is crucial in encouraging local residents and communities to participate in decision making concerning the built environment.

425.We recommend that there should be stronger policy support for early community engagement in both local plan making and planning decision-making. The Government, and local authorities, should give consideration to making good community engagement a material consideration in major planning decisions.

426.It was also suggested that communities should have a right of appeal against decisions made by the planning authority where they may be contrary to local development plans, in order to ensure a stronger community voice on planning decision-making. Former Chief Planning Inspector Katrine Sporle CBE had some sympathy with the idea, telling us:

“Many people who do not understand the planning system find it bewildering if a decision comes out that looks to be contrary to everything they were told was going to happen … if it is contrary to the development plan there should be something in place that allows much more debate than is perhaps currently the case”.386

427.Chris Shepley CBE, also a former Chief Planning Inspector, expressed more scepticism, indicating that it would be “unworkable” if there were a universal third party right of appeal and that it was not always straightforward to determine which decisions may be contrary to the local development plan.387 Mr Shepley noted, however, that such rights exist in Ireland and Jersey, with certain safeguards and limitations placed upon their operation.

428.In Jersey, the third-party right of appeal is limited to owners of properties within 50 metres of the site in question. In addition, anyone wishing to make such an appeal must have objected to the proposed development at an earlier stage of the planning process.388

429.CPRE proposed that a community right of appeal could apply where planning decisions were deemed to be contrary to an emerging or approved neighbourhood plan, to discourage speculative applications.389

430.We believe that the Government should consider the introduction of a community right of appeal in certain specified circumstances, such as when a planning decision conflicts with an emerging neighbourhood plan or deals with a site unallocated by the local plan. This may serve to discourage speculative or unsustainable development.


328 See Chapter Two.

329 Greater London Authority, ‘The London Plan’ 2015: https://www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/planning/london-plan [accessed on 8 February 2016]

330 Greater Manchester Combined Authority, ‘Greater Manchester Spatial Framework’ 2016: https://www.greatermanchester-ca.gov.uk/GMSF [accessed on 8 February 2016]

331 Q 37 (Max Farrell)

332 Written evidence from the Planning Officers’ Society (BEN0162)

333 Ibid.

334 Ibid.

335 See visit note in Appendix 6.

336 Ibid.

337 Ibid.

338 Q 137 (Finn Williams)

339 Local planning authorities

340 Written evidence from Urban Vision Enterprise (BEN0026)

341 Q 2 (Prof Mark Tewdwr-Jones)

342 Written evidence from Mr Nigel Atkins (BEN0223)

343 Written evidence from National Housing Federation (BEN0152)

344 Written evidence from the Planning Officers’ Society (BEN0162)

345 Q 185 (Guy Bransby)

346 Written evidence from Historic England (BEN0213)

347 Written evidence from the Suffolk Preservation Society (BEN0080)

348 The Town and Country Planning (Fees for Applications, Deemed Applications, Requests and Site Visits) (England) Regulations 2012 (SI 2012/2920)

349 Written evidence from Planning Officers Society (BEN0162)

350 Written evidence from Confederation of British Industry (BEN0054)

351 Q 217 (Councillor Gillian Brown)

352 Q 268 (Anneliese Hutchinson)

353 Q 338 (Brandon Lewis MP)

354 HC Deb, 8 February 2016, col 1335

355 262 (Joe Henry)

356 Q 340 (Brandon Lewis MP)

357 Q 13 (Ruth Stanier)

358 Written evidence from Town and Country Planning Association (BEN0171), British Property Federation (BEN0135), Campaign to Protect Rural England (BEN0084)

359 Written evidence from Greater London Authority (BEN0191), Institute of Historic Building Conservation (BEN0160)

360 Q 26 (Steve Quartermain)

361 Local authorities are required by the NPPF to determine the objectively assessed housing need for their areas, based on population and housing projections published by the Office for National Statistics and the Department for Communities and Local Government respectively. This is known as the Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) and is used to inform the local plan. When these projections are updated, local authorities may need to update their SHMA, potentially rendering existing local plans out of date.

362 Q 208 (Councillor Gillian Brown)

363 Q 209 (Councillor Gillian Brown)

364 Q 115 (Paul Miner)

365 Q 112 (Dr Hugh Ellis)

366 Written evidence from Friends of the Earth (BEN0137)

367 Department for Communities and Local Government, National Planning Policy Framework (March 2012), para 178: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/6077/2116950.pdf [accessed on 27 January 2016]

368 Q 111 (Dr Hugh Ellis)

369 Q 113 (Dr Hugh Ellis) and Q 3 (Prof Mark Tewdwr-Jones)

370 Written evidence from Innovate UK (BEN0147)

371 Written evidence from the Landscape Institute (BEN0136)

372 Written evidence from the Department for Communities and Local Government (BEN0190)

373 Q 212 (Councillor Sue Derbyshire)

374 Written evidence from Locality (BEN0153)

375 Q 80 (Steve Melligan)

376 215 (Councillor Gillian Brown)

377 Q 340 (Brandon Lewis MP)

378 QQ 330-331 (Brandon Lewis MP)

379 Q 262 (Simon de Beer)

381 Written evidence from Worcestershire County Council (BEN0101)

382 Written evidence from CPRE (BEN0084)

383 Written evidence from Boughton Parish Council (BEN0097), Braunston Parish Council (BEN0145), Brington Parish Council (BEN0105), Croughton Parish Council (BEN0025), Overstone Parish Council (BEN0121), Sellindge Parish Council (BEN0194)

384 Q 93 (David Tittle)

385 Written evidence from Confederation of British Industry (BEN0054), Royal Town Planning Institute (BEN0126), Locality (BEN0153), Urban Vision Enterprise (BEN0026)

386 Q 279 (Katrine Sporle)

387 Q 279 (Chris Shepley)

388 Mourant Ozannes, ‘Right of appeal? Comparing planning appeals in Jersey and Guernsey’ (2012): http://www.mourantozannesproperty.com/2012/09/right-of-appeal-comparing-planning-appeals-in-jersey-and-guernsey/ [accessed on 29 January 2016]

389 Q 116 (Paul Miner)




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