The Housing Secretary calls for a reform of the planning system, but what do planners on the ground think?
Housing secretary Robert Jenrick has said this week that it is time to re-think the planning system “from first principles” following reports that the government is considering the introduction of US-style zonal planning in the UK.
It has been reported that Jenrick has been working on a package of radical planning reforms. He stated: “The time has come to speed up and simplify this country’s overly bureaucratic planning process”, adding that the government was “thinking boldly and creatively about the planning system to make it fit for the future.”
He added: “I want everyone, no matter where in the country they live, to have access to affordable, safe, and high-quality housing, and to live in communities with a real sense of place. It’s time to re-think planning from first principles.”
The changes being discussed are reported to include a move to zonal planning – a system used in other countries including the US whereby some uses get automatic right to planning permission in certain areas – alongside a radical deregulation of use classes designed to allow high streets and town centres to adapt to change.
In addition, it has been reported that there will be a new fast-track planning system for developers of high quality, well-designed buildings. The changes are seen as part of an economic stimulus package designed to reboot the economy in the wake of the covid-19 crisis.
While Jenrick insisted that “high quality design and sensitivity to the local vernacular must be at the very heart of the process,” his comments are likely to alarm those worried about the impact on development quality of further deregulation of the planning process.
Cowgills spoke to Paul Williams, director at Mosaic Town Planning to gather his thoughts on the proposals he said:
“It’s very early days – the nature of any changes are unknown, and they will take a while to feed through to legislation and implementation.
“Generally speaking, zoning leads to more certainty but less flexibility. We feel the real problem we face are constant reforms to the current system and the lack of resource”.
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