We respond to government’s Planning White Paper consultation

19 October 2020

The Government's Planning White Paper is flawed, and should be rewritten with the UK’s Climate Change targets at its heart.

That is the view of CSE and the Town and Country Planning Association who have today (19 October) published a document calling on Government to ensure that, in considering the objectives, structures and governance of a new planning system for England, rapid carbon emissions reduction is given pre-eminent status.

Rachel Coxcoon is one of the authors. "The planning system has a unique contribution to make in the effective delivery of the UK’s carbon reduction target. So it is deeply disappointing that the white paper creates uncertainty about the role of planning in tackling climate change and fails to provide any detailed explanation of how carbon reductions will be secured."

You can download our response to the Planning White Paper Consultation here.

In writing our response, we incorporated comments and input from the UK Green Building CouncilRTPI and Client Earth.

We would encourage others to respond to the consulation before the deadline on 29 October. You can find out how here. And of course you can use any of the arguments that we put forward in our own response.

NB The actual consultation form contains A LOT of questions and takes quite a long time to fill in, and you actually have to know quite a lot about planning to answer most of it. So you may want to send your response direct to the email address instead: planningforthefuture@communities.gov.uk

In brief, we recommend that the reformed planning system must have four central characteristics:

  1. Alignment of the legal objectives of the Town and Country Planning Act and the Climate Change Act. This should build upon the existing legal duty and should apply to both development planning and development management and should include explicit reference to implementing the carbon reduction budgets required by the 2008 Climate Act. 
  2. Carbon reduction should be the first amongst equals of material considerations in the planning process. National policy should also set out a carbon reductions delivery test to ensure that all local authorities are accountable for any failure to achieve carbon reductions in new development the same way they are accountable or a failure to deliver housing targets. 
  3. National guidance should set out those local planning policies likely to have greatest impact on carbon reduction but also enable and not restrict the ability of local planning authorities to take locally appropriate action including setting more demanding targets on building performance over and above national standards. 
  4. National guidance should set out a clear methodology for carbon handling in the plan preparation and development management process, in order to reduce uncertainty and avoid unnecessary duplication of effort. 

Rachel wrote a blog explaining our concerns with the Planning White Paper in more detail which you can read here.

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