The TCPA has launched an 18-month project, supported by Trust for London, which has two key components:

  1. Research to gauge the current effectiveness of planning in delivering inclusive communities in London; and
  2. A programme of training and engagement for communities and the public sector to demonstrate the power and potential of planning in London to create sustainable and socially just communities.

Why the project is needed

The planning system was designed to help provide a good home, for everyone, in a healthy, thriving place. But in the last few decades something has gone badly wrong. Instead of having people’s welfare as its priority the English planning system too often puts wider economic growth above the specific needs of communities. Deregulation has reinforced this problem so that local council have lost control of whole aspects of the built environment.  What has this achieved? All over the country working people can’t afford to buy or rent a home and the affordability crisis is particularly acute in London. People on benefits are forced to move hundreds of miles away because there are no affordable rented homes where they live. And local councils are unable to refuse permission for developments that they know will harm their communities.

The TCPA has specific interest in how planning can play a transformative role in improving the life chances of people on low incomes. To achieve this we are keen to promote our advocacy work (including campaigning, organising, policy work and research) to engage people in the planning and regeneration of their neighbourhoods. We want to improve the capacity and skills of civil society groups to ensure their needs and aspirations are reflected throughout the planning framework.

What the project will involve

The project has two elements. The first is a research study to seek to understand and review whether planning policy at the London-wide, borough and neighbourhood level includes effective policy content on addressing issues such as affordable housing, inequality and health. The study will also examine whether these policies are being delivered in practice through planning decisions.   The outcome of the research would be to identify good practice and to influence future plan policy and implementation.

The second element of the project will seek to apply this learning to drive better outcomes for people.  To do this the project will need to engage with decision makers in the public and private sector and, crucially, the communities and individuals who have to live with the consequence of these decisions

For the public and private sectors this is about generating a shared understanding about how well designed and inclusive places can support wider corporate objectives on issues such as public health and mixed socially inclusive communities.  It means drilling into how development viability shapes outcomes and how socially progressive design can also support development values.    

For the community this learning has the potential to empower and inform individuals and communities so that they have an opportunity to meaningfully take part in the decisions that may affect the future of their home and neighbourhood. The planning system is a legalistic system of processes and structures which often positively excludes local communities from making a meaningful contribution. Promoting community skills can help open the door to strong community voice and better decisions. Ironically the drive to simplify planning through deregulation now means communities cannot have a say on a range of developments and little or no thought is given to the most basic issues, such as where children can play or whether there are enough doctors’ surgeries in the area. Through this project, we will provide accessible training and materials to help explain the planning system in London and to help ensure community voices are heard.



The project has four stages:

  • Stage 1: Assess the effectiveness of the London’s planning policy frameworks
  • Stage 2: Develop capacity building support materials for communities and for public sector professionals
  • Stage 3: Undertake direct engagement and empowerment for communities and training for public sector professionals
  • Stage 4: Dissemination strategy including a Parliamentary report launch to influence national policy


For more information email [email protected]