RTPI-led consortium speaks out against ‘localist' planning
A wide-ranging coalition of 29 planning, property and construction groups has written to the communities secretary Eric Pickles criticising the government’s drive to a “localist” planning system and requesting an urgent meeting to discuss the proposed policies, Building reported.
The consortium, led by the Royal Town Planning Institute, said it wanted to work with the government to ensure that the new planning system was still able to take sensible decisions about issues, such as planning for waste, hospitals and transport links, which go beyond local authority boundaries.
The letter follows the coalition government’s decision to abolish the regional tier to the planning system, which dictated how many homes should be built in each council area.
Ann Skippers, president of the RTPI said: “The  organisations feel that some aspects of the planning reforms may also hinder solutions to the housing crisis, to investment in enterprise in different parts of the country, to providing a lead to tackle climate change, to rapidly expanding renewable energy infrastructure and to reversing biodiversity loss.”
The grouping includes the British Property Federation, the Chartered Institute of Housing, the Construction Industry Council, the Institution of Civil Engineers and the RIBA. However, the CIOB was not a signatory to the letter.
The group has requested a meeting with Pickles as a matter of urgency, to influence the drafting of the Decentralisation and Localism Bill.
The letter adds: “We will engage with Government in this process in a positive, constructive manner and are committed to fresh thinking that may, on occasion, be challenging to all sides in this discussion. Part of this challenge will be in highlighting where aspects of planning reform may do damage to the longer term well-being of the nation.
“We are already concerned that some aspects of the Government’s proposals may potentially hinder solutions to providing much needed housing in appropriate locations, to investment in enterprise and to providing a lead on tackling climate change.
Meanwhile, in a separate story Building reported that Milton Keynes and Ashford Councils - which were together planning to build 100,000 homes by 2031 – are to review growth plans following the government’s cancellation of regional spatial strategies (RSSs).
Ashford officials are talking about reducing the planned number of new homes in the Kent district by 20-25%, and have already removed two planned sites totaling 1200 homes from the local plan.