In its landmark assessment of the English planning system, the newly-published Raynsford Review suggests that, while the planning system has the potential to make people’s lives better, deregulation has in many cases undermined this opportunity.
Former Housing Minister, Nick Raynsford, said that planning had been reduced to a ‘chaotic patchwork’ of responsibilities, which is incompatible with the promotion of health, wellbeing or civil rights of communities.
The Raynsford Review urges the government to take immediate steps to restrict permitted development, which enables developers to convert commercial buildings into housing units without safeguards on quality. A senior member of the review team said the current system is ‘toxic’.
The review presents a comprehensive new scheme for a system which protects and enhances people’s lives and well-being, and promotes more certainty and coordination of investment.
To facilitate a reduction in inequality, the review recommended a redistribution of capital gains tax and stamp duty, which would assist the England’s deprived areas. In addition, local councils would be able to compulsorily purchase land at a price that would enable development values to be fairly shared between communities and landowners.
The review proposes changes to the National Infrastructure Commission in its first assessment of the UK’s economic infrastucture needs, and covers the areas most likely to be affected for the next 30 years. Changes include an amended ‘National Sustainable Development Plan’ which would become the framework for all planning decisions, speeding up development and leading to greater market certainty.
Mr Raynsford said: “We ignore at our peril the anger and disaffection felt by so many communities at the failure of current planning policies and procedures to listen to their concerns and respond to their needs. Restoring public confidence in the planning system is one of our generation’s greatest challenges.
“Visionary planning is not just about creating great places in which to live and work. It is also about ensuring that we meet the huge environmental challenges our society faces, not least those arising from the very serious threat of global warming.”
Interim chief executive of the Town and Country Planning Association, Hugh Ellis, said:
“Permitted development is toxic and leads to a type of inequality not seen in Britain for over a century. Under the arrangements, which have produced over 100,000 housing units, vulnerable people are stripped of any right to light and space, with their children forced to play in active car parks, and no contribution to local services such as doctor’s surgeries or local schools.
“We have a choice: do we want to build the slums of the future or create places that actually enhance people’s lives?”