Common Ground

A Shared Vision for Planning Reform

With the consultation on the government’s controversial planning reforms coming to an end, the TCPA has published ‘Common Ground’, which sets out an alternative vision for reform focused on democracy, climate change and housing delivery.

Since the Planning White Paper was launched, concerns have been expressed about the impact of the proposed radical changes on local democracy and the quality of outcomes.

‘Common Ground’ reflects those concerns and aims to build a wider consensus around necessary changes to the existing English planning system. The changes would be much less disruptive than those proposed by the government, which aimed to ‘tear down’ the existing system, while making planning fit to tackle the health, housing and the climate crises.

The priorities for change in ‘Common Ground’ focus on a statutory purpose for planning, practical help for housing delivery and greater local democratic accountability. The proposals would strengthen housing standards and bind the climate and planning acts together to help deliver radical reductions in carbon emissions.

In the midst of a devastating pandemic, it should not be hard to win public support for a planning system which promotes safe and healthy communities. Sadly the debate about planning in England over the past decade has been characterised by divisive and ineffective tinkering with the policies and structures necessary to deliver economic, environmental and social wellbeing.  We are now at crisis point and need to build a new consensus on how together we can plan a better future. That is precisely what ‘Common Ground’ is all about.

Rt Hon Nick Raynsford

There is no doubt that the planning system is in need of reform.  I hope above all else that those orchestrating the changes will stand back and realise the immense and positive influence that planning could be having on so many aspects of life, not least the huge economic and environmental challenges society must now address, urgently. It is not the right time to rip up the old and sweep in the new, but it is the right time to learn from best practice and adapt and graft in new provisions to tackle the shortcomings.

Julia Foster, Managing Partner, David Lock Associates

Almost everyone agrees that the planning system in this country urgently needs reform, but we must make sure that people are at the very heart of it so that we can rebuild the trust between both public and private sectors and local communities. We face many challenges over the coming years – climate change, adapting to a post-Covid way of life, health and well-being – as well as needing more homes.  Planning has a critical role to play in meeting these challenges and ensuring we can create places that are both beautiful and resilient for the future.

Mary Parsons, TCPA Chair