The Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport (ADEPT) is calling on the Government to ‘think again’, after it says the white paper, Planning for the Future, has caused a ‘furore’ among local authorities in England.
ADEPT argues that the changes proposed in the White Paper are the ‘most radical’ since 1947, and will have ‘profound repercussions’ on planning decisions in England for generations to come.
ADEPT says the current system has become ‘overly process based and complicated’, with more of a focus on numbers and addressing risk than true place shaping.
It says the White Paper is ‘radical’ because it seeks to fundamentally move from a discretionary system based on local democratic decision-making to a hybrid, rules-based zonal approach not seen anywhere else in the world.
“We consider that the proposed reforms as set out in the White Paper require more evidence to substantiate them,” ADEPT states in its response. “As presented, the paper sees the planning process and planning system as about regulation and control rather than achieving wider sustainable outcomes.”
The Association believes that the paper is lacking in vital detail and, as it stands, risks ‘exacerbating inequalities’ in different areas of the country through skewing the process to favour high value areas.
In addition, these ‘inequalities’ are likely to be compounded by imposing a national, top-down approach that does not reflect the local social, economic, environmental and financial challenges faced by local areas, it says.
ADEPT President, Nigel Riglar said: “The pandemic is bringing communities closer to their local places. They want to see more attention given to green spaces, biodiversity and tackling climate change.
As it stands, the White Paper risks losing local accountability, reducing the influence of communities and their democratically elected representatives through increased deregulation.
“They want their places to become healthier, more inclusive and resilient. And, most importantly, they want to have their say, not only on the principles of development through local and neighbourhood plans, but also on individual schemes.
“As it stands, the White Paper risks losing local accountability, reducing the influence of communities and their democratically elected representatives through increased deregulation.
“We believe a major reform of the planning system is overdue and presents a valuable opportunity to truly plan for the future through creating a collaborative approach. ADEPT wants to work with government to ensure a new, simplified planning system that will enable local democratic involvement, has a climate focus and will support levelling-up across the country.”
ADEPT is the voice of local authority county, unitary and metropolitan strategic place directors across England with responsibility for the key place based services, including transport, environment, planning, economic development, housing and waste.
Download a copy of ADEPT’s full response here.