While there are many positive aspects to the government’s planning white paper, the full proposals contain a number of reforms that could work against its ambition

Photo by Benjamin Elliott on Unsplash

We welcome the ambition of the government’s planning white paper, to build beautiful, sustainable, connected places, with green infrastructure for everyone, through a modernised and digital-first planning system. Our members work to deliver this ambition every day.

However, while there is much in the paper that is very positive, the full proposals contain a number of reforms that could work against this ambition.

LI President Jane Findlay said:

‘We welcome the priority given to high-quality design, and the recognition that everybody deserves to live in a healthy beautiful place. The ambition for every street to be tree-lined, and for new parks and green spaces, recognises the many health benefits of landscape.

‘The restatement of environmental net gain, and of using the planning system to tackle climate change, is exactly the vision that is needed for sustainable placemaking. Creating a transparent, digital and map-based system can help to deliver all of this.

‘However, while these principles are the right ones, it is unclear how some of the structural reforms will deliver this in practice. In particular, the reduction of plan-making into a 30-month window could squeeze out essential evidence-gathering that goes into ensuring sustainable development, particularly if soundness tests are removed.

‘Likewise, the reform of developer contributions could be a massive step backwards if it leads to a reduction in the delivery of essential community infrastructure. Unless this covers the new Permitted Development Rights, we are still at risk of building unhealthy grey slums.

‘More fundamentally, none of these reforms will bear fruit without more resources and skills in the right places. The proposal to have a Chief Officer for design and placemaking in each LPA is an excellent start, but we need to ensure that these roles include an understanding of landscape and green infrastructure.’

We look forward to working with the government to shape these proposals and to ensure that they work for the benefit of people, place, and nature.

We will be responding to the proposals in full. To have your say, and to get involved in our policy development, contact policy@landscapeinstitute.org.

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