With many other environmental charities, we have condemned the government’s proposals to speed up the planning process and reduce democratic involvement. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has published a consultation, Planning for the Future, with closing date of 29 October 2020.
This proposes a total rewrite of the rules first set out in the Town and Country Planning Act 1947, which have stood the test of time and ensured local people have a proper say in where development takes place, and the nature of that development. Now government proposes to divide England into three categories, growth, renewal and protected, with automatic planning permission for development on growth sites. The involvement of local people will be severely reduced and the opportunities to influence what goes where are opaque.
The society will be responding robustly to the consultation. One of our principal concerns are for the protection and creation of good-quality open spaces. Commenting on the consultation, our case officer Nicola Hodgson said:
‘Government, local authorities and our communities must all work together to ensure that everyone has access to good-quality open space close to home. This is a vital element of a green recovery after the pandemic, with people valuing the green on their doorsteps more than ever. It is essential that the government ensures that changes to boost building aren’t at the expense of the open green spaces and wildlife pockets that people value and visit in their neighbourhoods. Our proposals for what needs to be done are set out in our charter for open spaces.’