Labour promises “root and branch rethink” of planning system

Labour wants to give local people more of a say in planning issues.

Labour has launched a “root and branch rethink” of the planning system aimed at giving local communities more of a voice in local planning decisions.

At its party conference in Liverpool on 23 September 2018, Labour announced the creation of a planning commission to reach out to communities across the country that they say have been denied a voice about decisions affecting their towns, villages and cities.

Labour is concerned that the government’s deregulation of planning has resulted in residents being ignored when decisions are made about new developments in their community. Their commission will cover all aspects of the planning process, including the necessary infrastructure to underpin new development and crucial aspects of any proposed development, including genuinely affordable housing for social rent, in order to create a planning system that works in the public interest.

Labour say their planning commission will inform the party’s reforms to the planning system that are “necessary to fix our broken housing market and create a housing system fit to deliver Labour’s housing policy, including one million genuinely affordable homes”.

A key aim of the commission will be to address the marginalisation of voices of communities and residents in the planning process which the party says has been “reinforced by the imbalance in expertise and resource between communities and private sector bodies and a lack of transparency in the planning system”.

The commission will be made up of experienced planners and experts from the housing industry and will hold meetings across the country, meeting with residents, planners, local authorities and developers. The commission will also be asking for written submissions.

Roberta Blackman-Woods, Labour’s shadow minister for planning and local government said: “Our planning system has seen a number of changes in recent years, but these all add up to more deregulation, and a system that is no longer working for our communities.

“The voice of local residents must be at the heart of decisions about the future of their communities. Despite warm words from the government about planning, communities are increasing side-lined in the decision making process, and feel they have no say in the type of development they get.

“The commission will help Labour design a planning system fit for not only the 21st century but the 22nd century, and will examine the role local people have in shaping the future of their area and planning in advance for new infrastructure; for jobs; for access to schools; new transport; greater access to green spaces, and the need to enhance the built and natural environment.”

The construction sector will be able to get involved in Labour’s review as the commission will include representatives of the RICS and RIBA as well as industry organisations like the British Property Federation and the Federation of Master Builders.

The commission will issue a call for evidence on 25 October, followed by a series of regional meetings. The commission’s conclusions are due to be delivered next year.

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