The Planning White Paper, an opportunity for real change?

The country is facing housing, health and climate crises. The recently published report, Health Equity in England: the Marmot Review 10 years on, highlighted that people’s health has stopped improving and health inequalities are increasing. Storms Ciara and Dennis, which followed each other in quick succession, were the latest stark reminders of the appalling impacts of extreme weather events.

The TCPA is clear that a planning system focused on high quality design and place-making has the power to tackle inequality and work to address the crises the country faces. It has the power to make people’s lives better. However, as our recent report highlighted, in its current state good outcomes from the planning system are often being delivered ‘despite the system, rather than because of it’.

While there is much speculation in the media at the moment about what the White Paper may or may not deliver, the TCPA believes the White Paper could and should set out an agenda for change that will enable the planning system to deliver the radical transformation we need to support people’s health, safety, wellbeing and life chances.

The White Paper must enable the planning system to take urgent action to tackle the climate crisis at national, regional and local levels.

This will include climate change being a central priority in national planning policy and urgent investment in the skills and capacity of local government. But there is also a need for structures at the national level that will be able to strategically deal with the scale of the climate challenge.

The White Paper must recognise the profound force for good planning can be for people and communities.

The current system is too focused on process, speed and the number of housing units being delivered. As we have seen with some of the worst examples of homes being delivered through permitted development rights, this is endangering people rather than creating homes and places that have positive impacts on people and the environment. We need a Healthy Homes Act that will improve the quality of all new homes and we need the White Paper to commit to strong new community rights to make sure that people have a meaningful say in the future of the areas in which they live and work.

The White Paper must clearly position the planning system as being about delivering better outcomes for people.

We need new legislation that enshrines the purpose of planning as being about improving outcomes for people. These outcomes may be economic, but they should also be about tackling health, economic and social inequality. The White Paper should also make a clear link between the role of planning, better outcomes for people and the government’s levelling up agenda. Regeneration must be a priority, underpinned by long term funding.

If you agree with what you’ve read, and are interested in hearing more, please join the TCPA here.

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