Building the Future: A TCPA manifesto for the 2019 General Election

“Planning is at the heart of our collective future and vital for the welfare and prosperity of our communities. Planning is about making the places we all want to live in, not windowless boxes or soulless housing estates, but creative places where people can thrive in healthy environments. Planning defines our ability to meet the challenges of inequality and climate change. It can offer our communities a real voice in their future and help transform people’s life chances.”

Mary Parsons, Chair of the TCPA – September 2019

Ahead of the General Election on 12th December the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) is calling on all political parties to commit to policies that will make new and existing communities just, healthier and more sustainable.

The changes we need to secure the future we want

The planning system is an incredibly powerful tool in enabling change that can transform people’s lives for the better. The TCPA is campaigning for a renewed planning system founded on a new statutory purpose for planning with just outcomes for people at its heart. To support the development of new, and regeneration of existing, communities we are calling on all political parties to commit to:

i. Produce new planning legislation that focuses the English planning system on delivering better outcomes for people and sustainable development, and enables equitable land value capture.

ii. Commit to a new spatial planning system, which includes a new national spatial plan and sub-national tier of planning that seeks to tackle the housing, health and climate crises.

iii. Transform the quality of the homes being built today by committing to a Healthy Homes Act.

iv. Establish a new Department for Climate Change to lead urgent, cross Government action to radically reduce carbon emissions and adapt to climate change.

v. Re-establish regeneration as a government priority including by setting out a strategic and long-term investment plan to tackle inequality.

Why these changes are needed

We are simply not building the places the nation needs, supporting existing places to prosper or rising the current challenges the nation is facing. There remains a desperate housing crisis. Many of the homes that are being built are poor quality and rather than building communities houses are being built with no regard for access to health, educational and transport facilities. We are in the midst of a climate emergency. And yet we continue to build on flood plains and be slow to fully commit to reducing carbon emissions.

As the Raynsford Review of Planning [November 2018] made clear the relaxation of planning safeguards has led to the creation of the ‘slums of the future’. And the problem is not just about what we build now, it’s about the future of countless existing places that face economic decline.

Planning is a catalyst for change and the foundation of prosperity. It deals with the basic question of how we are going live and can inspire visionary leadership based on smart evidence about how communities work and evolve. But we need changes if it is to tackle many of the challenges we currently face.

We need new planning legislation that focuses on delivering better outcomes for people because currently we have a system that is too focused on process, speed and the number of units with no regard for tenure, quality or meeting people’s needs. The legislation should reinforce the plan led system and enshrine strong community rights to participate in planning to make sure people have a meaningful say in the future of the areas in which they live and work.

The Act should also put in place mechanisms to ensure the profits from the development land are shared fairly to pay for the basic transport, health and education infrastructure to make places work for people.

We need a new spatial planning system that supports work to tackle the housing, health and climate crises. The new system should include a national plan and a sub-national tier to support the efficient delivery of new infrastructure and tackle regional inequalities. The new system would enable the delivery of a new programme of Garden Cities, which would deliver new homes as part of sustainable communities. This would be implemented through properly updated New Towns legislation with a legal duty to deliver the Garden City principles.

We need a Healthy Homes Act to make sure new homes support people’s health, safety, wellbeing and life chances. The legislation would support the achievement a decent standards by ensuring new homes meet a range of minimum including in relation to living space, light and access to green and play space.

We need a new Department for Climate Change with a Secretary of State that will show national leadership. This will include putting in place mechanisms to take action at national, regional and local levels to support radical reductions in carbon emissions, and enabling the adaptation and mitigation to climate change that is needed.

We need government to make regeneration a priority and commit long-term funding to supporting areas of the country and communities in desperate need of revitalisation. For too long these places have been side lined while government has focused on supporting growth in London and the greater South East and this has resulted in profound inequalities that need to be addressed urgently. A new Government must make sure addressing these inequalities is a priority.