At the end of the end of this week the consultation on the Planning White Paper closes.

As a team we have been engaging with the wider profession to discuss and debate the proposed changes in the White Paper and have contributed to responses from organisation.

There are a number of challenges and opportunities that may arise from the Planning White Paper reforms. Our colleague Jeff Bishop has an article in the September / October 2020 edition of the Town and Country Planning Journal exploring the possible tensions that could arise linked to the proposed increased role for design guides and codes, especially linked to neighbourhood planning. Take a look at the article here.

Another possible tension that may arise from White Paper proposals is between early and genuine involvement in the Plan Making process and the shortening of time scales to prepare a Local Plan. We very much agree with the ambition to significantly shorten the time it takes to prepare Local Plans. It is, however, essential to understand why they now take so long. This is in part a result, over many years, of everybody – society, government, the planning profession – rightly raising their ambitions for what planning should address; a notable and topical example being climate change. It is our experience that engagement in plan making processes can increase engagement and build on local knowledge and aspirations. Our team have worked with Local Authorities, to set up processes to train people at parish/town level to undertake general character assessment, site assessment and initial site selection. The benefits were clear and considerable:

  • More people understood more about planning.
  • People’s trust in the planning system increased.
  • A huge additional resource was made available to the authorities.
  • By engaging directly in this work, final decisions were far more readily accepted.
  • Better site selection decisions were made.
  • There were fewer objections to allocations in the eventual plans.

Take a look at the case study for collaborative local plan making here.

Our response to the White Paper consultation will be sent to the government and we will also post it here on our journal.