Planning System ‘Not Fit For Purpose’

Britain’s current planning system is unfit for purpose and should be overhauled, according to a report by a Blair-era housing minister.

The Raynsford Review of Planning, commissioned by the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA), claims that current planning legislation is “built on the back of assertion rather than evidence”.

Nick Raynsford, president of the TCPA and housing minister from 1997 to 2001, will present his interim findings at the House of Lords today.

According to the report, frequent tinkering has left the planning system less effective now than at any other time in the past 75 years and “powerless to defend the public interest”

Among nine provisional recommendations, the review calls for a new “simplified, consolidated and integrated Spatial Planning Act” and reform of land value capture mechanisms like Section 106 and the Community Infrastructure Levy.

It also recommends setting a “legal obligation for the government to plan for the needs of future generations” and new methods of giving the public a voice in the planning process.

Mr Raynsford said: “The planning system is no longer capable of shaping the places we need to secure people’s long-term health and well-being.

“We need a new approach with people at the heart of decisions and a system which will meet the growing challenges of housing affordability, climate change and economic transformation.”

More than 1,000 people have fed into the review in the past year, according to the TCPA.

A consultation on an update to the National Planning Policy Framework closed last week.

John Acres, president of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), said: “The report rightly recognises that planners in England are working in a less than optimal system – too complex, underfunded and struggling with economic forces outside its control.

“The RTPI welcomes the opportunity to take a thorough look at things and feed in our ideas on how to improve the system.

“But ultimately we should not pretend that there is a foolproof planning system, and starting afresh does no one any good.”

Credit: May 2018, Inside Housing Nathaniel Barker