As the Housing Secretary calls for planning reform: we say ‘move forwards, not back’

10th June 2020

We warn against planning reform that rips up red tape at the expense of communities and the countryside.

Robert Jenrick, the Housing Secretary, has called for reforms to the planning system that return to ‘first principles’ and remove bureaucracy. At CPRE, we welcome changes to improve the way planning works – but warn the government to look forward, to new ways to do this, and not back, in order to create a planning system fit for the future.

Jenrick said that he wants everyone, no matter where they live, to have access to good quality housing that they can afford. We couldn’t agree more and have long campaigned for this – especially given the often-forgotten crisis in social housing in rural areas. But we’d always warn against an emphasis on stripping back regulations, which we fear will usher in inappropriate developments that don’t serve local people.

‘Their record speaks for itself’

Responding to housing secretary, our campaigns and policy director Tom Fyans said:

‘The call to rip up the red tape in our planning system only moves us backwards. We can’t continue to allow a free-for-all for speculative developers. Deregulation won’t improve the quantity or quality of homes. Recent reforms haven’t tackled the affordable housing crisis but have allowed developers to get poorly designed housing developments through the system, often on appeal. Their record speaks for itself – 75% of recent housing developments are of mediocre or poor design and should never have been given planning permission.

'We can't continue to allow a free-for-all for speculative developers. Deregulation won’t improve the quantity or quality of homes.'
Tom Fyans

‘The coronavirus pandemic has shown how much we need and value our green spaces for our health and wellbeing. To create a planning system fit for the future, the government must introduce reforms to strengthen local participation and ensure our countryside and green spaces are protected and enhanced, not just seen as land waiting to be developed. Only then will we create truly liveable, genuinely affordable and low carbon places to live, with plenty of access to green spaces for all.’

Standing with communities for great planning decisions

We’ll keep working hard on this issue, talking to the government to campaign for good planning and development and undertaking research to learn more about what’s happening right now.

Want to do your bit? Join our current campaign to back a democratic planning system – one that ensures that even in extraordinary times, such as during coronavirus, the public can play their role in steering planning decisions. Write to your MP and let them know: you want a planning system that works for people, not just profit.

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