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Planning Bill could ‘oust people and nature’, say campaigners

By Annabelle Sanderson
8th July 2021

  • Campaigners including CPRE, the countryside charity, RSPB, Ramblers and Wildlife Trusts and Woodland Trust release six tests to help the government put people and nature at the heart of planning

To begin creating the nature friendly, low carbon, well designed, affordable homes and places of the future, campaigners are using six decisive tests to scrutinise the upcoming Planning Bill. A broad coalition of 20 housing, planning, transport, environmental and heritage organisations have joined forces to urge the government to change course and avoid ousting people and nature from planning.

The six tests provide a scorecard that uses the government’s own wording in its Planning White Paper to critically assess whether its vision for planning will become a reality in the Planning Bill. Wide ranging organisations from CPRE, the countryside charity through to Ramblers and Wildlife Trusts have jointly developed these tests, which include:

  • Local democracy: retain and enhance genuine and accessible community participation and accountability throughout the planning process in all areas;

  • Affordable homes: deliver an evidenced strategy to build affordable homes and provide local authorities with the power to turn down developments which do not deliver affordable housing;

  • Climate emergency: Accelerate climate action to meet the UK’s net zero targets and ensure that local planning authorities are empowered to deliver climate-friendly developments;

  • Nature: Protect sites important for biodiversity and nature’s recovery, and require enhancement of nature in all developments;

  • Heritage: The conservation of heritage and designated landscapes are safeguarded against inappropriate development and;

  • Health: Embed human health, wellbeing and equality in the planning system, including priorities for access to natural green space, active travel and reducing air pollution.

The joint coalition understands the power of planning to create thriving, sustainable housing that our communities will feel proud to call home. These tests provide the framework to track government progress towards creating a planning system fit for the future by judging each criteria red, amber or green at key legislative milestones. It is crucial that Ministers now change course in their proposed changes to planning and introduce a Bill that will move us closer to this vision, and not further away.

The government’s response to the Planning White Paper is expected imminently and will give an indication as to whether or not Ministers have heeded the concerns from this coalition of organisations.

Anne Henshaw, chair of CPRE Wiltshire said:

“Planning done correctly can help create healthy, low carbon, thriving communities. But the Planning White Paper is actively excluding people from the decision making process which means local knowledge is lost and communities are alienated.
“We should be encouraging more people to be involved with the long term plans of their local areas and making sure their voices are heard – not drowned out by those of developers. 
“In Wiltshire we have seen thousands of houses being built and now local communities have spoken out saying “no” to new developments, for example in Chippenham. 
“That’s why we’re calling on the government to urgently change course and put people and nature at the centre of the upcoming Planning Bill.”
six tests planning
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