Don’t let planning deregulation lead to poor quality housing, says CPRE

23rd June 2020

As calls grow for more cuts to the rules for planning and developing buildings, we warn against the hazards of rushing towards deregulation.

There have today been reports of calls from senior government aides for major reforms to the planning system, furthering changes to planning rules brought in during the coronavirus pandemic to aid rapid building during the crisis.

Tom Fyans, our Campaigns and Policy Director, comments on this move towards deregulation, warning of the risk of allowing a slide towards poor quality housing.

‘The deregulation drumbeat is getting louder, but we know from bitter experience the issue is not the planning system making things hard to build. It’s currently far too easy to build poor quality housing – our research with University College London (UCL) shows that over three-quarters of large new housing developments built in the past decade have been mediocre or poor and should never have been given planning permission.

‘We’re also in real danger of creating a whole new generation of car-dependent estates in the middle of nowhere if the government persists with deregulation and lax planning policies.’

The need for good design – for people and planet

CPRE worked with campaigners Place Alliance, based at UCL, in early 2020 to release a report about the design of housing built across the country. Our findings were bleak, with 94% of housing developments audited in rural areas not meeting the standards that should have been ensured for approval.

Any loosening of planning rules risks more of these unsuitable developments, which give a poorer quality of life for residents, slipping through, as well as greater harm to the green spaces that we’ve come to appreciate more than ever during the 2020 lockdown.

‘The planning system is the unsung hero for protecting many green spaces that have been a haven for people through lockdown’, commented Fyans. ‘The protection and improvement of our Green Belts and other countryside next door, which the government has already pledged, must be the priority.

‘We must empower local communities and raise standards for delivering well-connected, zero-carbon new homes that are linked to public transport, walking and cycling infrastructure. Only by making the planning system more robust and better-funded will the government begin to improve it’s already dismal track record on delivering quality and genuinely affordable housing.’

A gloved hand laying cement between red bricks