A major review of planning has been launched to identify how the government can reform the English planning system to make it fairer, better resourced and capable of tackling the major challenges which confront the nation, including housing and climate change. The review has been sparked by widespread concerns that the planning process is no longer capable of shaping the kinds of places which will support our environment and economy and secure the health and wellbeing of communities now and in the future.  

Chaired by former housing and planning minister and TCPA President, Rt. Hon Nick Raynsford, the review will be informed by a task force of experts in policy, law, planning practice and public participation. The review aims to provide a positive set of recommendations to completely reshape planning, restoring its democratic and creative purposes.

Nick Raynsford said:

"More than ever we need a planning system which commands the confidence of the public and delivers outcomes of which we can feel proud. After too many years of piecemeal changes and tinkering with the system, we need to go back to first principles and seek to develop a practical blueprint for the future of planning in England. That is the objective of this review."

A formal call for evidence is being launched today and there will be a series of engagement events over the next 18 months to ensure that the report is based on the experience of politicians, planning practitioners in the public and private sectors, housing providers, developers, consultants, academics and the public.

The members of the Raynsford Review Task Force are:

  • Hon Nick Raynsford (Chair of the task force)
  • Maria Adebowale-Schwarte, Founding Director, Living Space Project
  • Julia Foster, Managing Partner, David Lock Associates
  • Tom Fyans, Interim Chief Executive, Campaign to Protect Rural England
  • Kate Henderson, Chief Executive, TCPA
  • Lord Kerslake, Former Head of the Civil Service, President-Elect, LGA and Chair, Peabody
  • Anna Rose, Immediate Past President, Planning Officers Society and Director of Growth, Economy and Culture, Milton Keynes Council
  • Professor Yvonne Rydin, Professor of Planning, Environment and Public Policy, University College London’s Bartlett School of Planning
  • Chris Shepley CBE MRTPI, Consultant and Former Chief Planning Inspector for England and Wales
  • William Upton, Barrister and Secretary of the Planning and Environment Bar Association (PEBA)
  • Finn Williams, Regeneration Area Manager for North West London, Greater London Authority and Founder of public sector planning think tank NOVUS

Julia Foster said:

“In the maelstrom of the system in which we currently operate it is easy to lose sight of the immense benefit which good, positive planning can bring.  It is a challenge and a privilege to be involved in this review and to have a chance to think about how we might reinvigorate the planning system to help strive for quality of life and a fairer society.”

Tom Fyans said:

“Planning has lost its focus on both the public interest and on resolving competing demands for the use of land, but we cannot afford to squander our beautiful and productive countryside.  A system geared toward housing growth at any cost is folly: communities must be empowered to secure the best quality developments that meet their needs. We need planning, and planning needs the Raynsford Review.”

Anna Rose said:

“I believe that planning has reached a crossroads in terms of its future. When used responsibly and imaginatively, planning can lead to the delivery of great places. The opposite is also unfortunately true. Planning has become a political football, leading to frequent changes in direction and a lack of certainty and consistency in terms of purpose. It is time for a review and I can’t wait to get started.”

Professor Yvonne Rydin said:

“The Raynsford Review offers a timely opportunity to reflect on the limitations of a planning system that has been subject to multiple, un-coordinated changes, and to propose an alternative. A renewed planning system could deliver towns and cities that we all want to live in, that will secure our future quality of life.”

Chris Shepley CBE said:

“There has been a period of rapid change in the planning system but this has not always been accompanied by a strategy or vision for its future. We need a longer-term focus in order to produce a strong and stable planning system: one which combines efficiency with imagination, and one which gives planners encouragement and scope not just to run a process but actually to plan positively for a better world. I hope and expect that with Nick Raynsford’s experience and guidance this can be achieved.”

Finn Williams said:

“The status of the planning system has possibly reached its lowest ebb, at the same time as it is needed more than ever. The idea that planning is a barrier to change has become a self-fulfilling prophecy, as piecemeal deregulation has stripped planners of their agency. We need the bold scope of the Raynsford Review to help a new generation find new purpose in planning, and recover its vision and ambition.”

Harry Burchill, RTPI Communications and Public Affairs Officer Royal Town Planning Institute, said:

“The effective and efficient functioning of the planning system  is the cornerstone of a fair and prosperous society. The RTPI welcomes this review and is pleased to contribute its policy and research expertise which demonstrates how better planning can contribute to a range of challenges, notably the housing crisis. We look forward to responding in more detail as the review progresses.”


 Notes to Editors

  1. The Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) is an independent campaigning charity calling for more integrated planning based on the principles of accessibility, sustainability, diversity and community cohesion. The TCPA puts social justice and the environment at the heart of the debate about planning policy, housing and energy supply. We inspire government, industry and campaigners to take a fresh perspective on major issues including climate change and regeneration.
  2. For more information about the Raynsford Review see https://www.tcpa.org.uk/raynsford-review
  3. For further information, please contact Jack Mulligan on 020 7930 8903 or [email protected].