RTPI applauds world-class ambitions for planning

Government plans to put good design and place-making at the heart of a reformed planning system have been welcomed by the Royal Town Planning Institute.

Speaking in Parliament, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said that the new system would champion tree-lined streets, a “fast track for beauty” and greater opportunities for communities to influence design standards in their area.

Reacting to the announcement, RTPI Chief Executive Victoria Hills said: “We are delighted that the government intends to take forward many of the recommendations in the recent Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission report, which was clear about the crucial role played by the planning profession in place-making.

“We are also pleased that the National Model Design Code will be used to set out clear parameters for promoting the design and style of homes and neighbourhoods that local people want to see, resulting in standards that are embedded in planning policy.

“More broadly, the ‘infrastructure first’ approach taken throughout recognizes how crucial planning is in delivering on key housing commitments. The recognition of the need to ensure adequate funding for planning through a review of the fee structure is something we have long campaigned for and is to be welcomed.

“Overall we applaud the ambition to create a world-class planning service. We have long recognised that the expertise of UK planners is widely acclaimed internationally.”

However, Ms Hills was less positive about the use of permitted development rights (PDRs) which Mr Jenrick said would be extended by the summer to encourage councils and developers to take a more innovative approach to home building.

She said: “The RTPI has long-standing concerns with the extension of permitted development rights which we feel will encourage a piecemeal, short-term approach. Extended PDRs risk poorly designed and inappropriately located housing and will make it more difficult for communities to have a say on development. It will also result in diminished developer contributions through application fees, which go towards affordable housing and infrastructure.

“One encouraging change from when these proposals were first mooted last year is that the governments says that new residential units should be ‘well-designed’ and meet natural light standards.

“I will be meeting with the Housing Minister Christopher Pincher next week and am looking forward to discussing PDRs in more detail then.”