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Government planning reforms don’t pass acid test for community voice

5 August 2020

Providing initial comments on the government’s Planning for the Future White Paper, Tom Fyans, deputy chief executive of CPRE, the countryside charity, said:

‘The key acid test for the planning reforms is community involvement and on first reading, it’s still not clear how this will work under a zoning system.

‘Although we welcome the government’s commitment to all areas having a local plan in place, we also need robust legal guarantees that the public are consulted regarding new development. Red lines on a map are not going to build trust in the planning system. As things stand, the government seems to have conflated the ‘digitalisation’ of planning with democratic planning – they’re not the same thing.

‘The government’s aim to deliver carbon neutral new homes by 2050 is pitiful and represents 34 lost years given that the Code for Sustainable Homes aimed to achieve the same thing by 2016 and was dropped by the government. If this government is serious about tackling the climate emergency, it needs to be much, much more ambitious on new builds.

‘On affordable homes, our concern is how this approach might play out in the countryside. In many rural areas, house prices are often more than ten times average earnings, and so the 30 percent discount won’t cut it. Local authorities should be able to provide the sorts of homes needed in their area – homes that local people can afford.

‘We have long advocated for a genuinely brownfield-first approach and on this aspect, the government seems to have listened. But if a brownfield-first approach is to work, local authorities need to be able to prioritise the building of those sites and reject unnecessary losses of greenfield land.’

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