UK Planning Policy

from Achieving Sustainable Development through Neighbourhood Planning? pt3

Mike Jenks and Chris Smith
Fal Energy Partnership AGM, 24th April 2014 at Penryn Town Hall

I want to dwell a bit on what has been happening in the UK recently, as philosophically there are lessons to be learned that might apply elsewhere, and things that are best avoided, if sustainable cities are to be achieved.

To some extent, having worked on the Compact City for around 20 years, I am always a bit nervous that it is just ‘old hat’. But, thankfully it seems not. In June 2012 the OECD launched a major report on Compact City Policies. It reviewed 27 countries that had clear and good policies to help promote sustainable planning and design. It has evaluated case studies in five OECD countries – Australia, Canada, USA, France and Japan (Melbourne, Vancouver, Portland, Paris and Toyama), drawing conclusions and giving advice about what has been found successful in moving toward a more sustainable urbanism.

At much the same time, the UK government launched its new planning legislation – making a huge play of the idea of de-regulation and sweeping away past guidance – in fact over 1,000 pages of evidence-based guidance was scrapped, to be reduced down to a 56 page document – The National Planning Policy Framework. Also scrapped was the exemplary policy guidance identified by the OECD. The UK is stepping firmly in the wrong direction – at least 2 steps backwards.

But, in removing a lot of central control, it set up legislation for ‘localism’, and put in place a mechanism for local communities to plan their neighbourhoods, albeit in a very constrained fashion with something called a Neighbourhood Plan – the half step forward.

More to follow next week.

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