Good design in the new planning system
14 December 2010
The Localism Bill will provide the legislative foundation for a shift in power to local communities. But what does it mean for good design?
CABE's chief executive, Richard Simmons, said:
‘Despite all the headlines about neighbourhood planning, Local Plans will still be fundamentally important. It’s crucial they are fit for purpose and CABE’s work with local authorities found that many struggle to tell the story of a place. Councils will need plenty of support to create effective plans.
CABE welcomes the presumption in favour of sustainable development. In particular, the decision to retain the central definition from 2008 Planning Act of ‘mitigating and adapting to climate change and achieving good design'. This could ensure that design quality remains a central focus of the planning system.
We also welcome the opportunity this Bill creates for all schemes to undergo independent examination. Tools like design review and Building for Life allow for a process which focuses on quality and works in the public interest, which is what every community wants.'
CABE response to the bill
The CABE response to the the Localism Bill shows four opportunities to improve design quality through the new planning system:
1. Local solutions to create distinctive places
We know that people tend to be more accepting of well designed, locally distinctive new development. Through the neighbourhood planning process, people will be engaged in creating the criteria by which local development will be assessed, which should lead to better designed, higher quality places.
2. Collaboration, not just consultation
Through the development of neighbourhood planning as the bedrock of the new approach, planning will become a collaborative, rather than simply consultative, process in which communities come together to solve their own housing and development issues. Collaboration alone will not necessarily deliver well designed places. But provided there is access to independent advice, the new system could ensure that everyone’s voice is heard, not just those that are most articulate.
3. A clear expectation of quality
The new system will introduce a National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and simplified minimum standards to replace the extensive suite of planning policy and guidance. The establishment of minimum standards for architecture and design will create an expectation of quality, whilst allowing for locally distinctive standards to be developed by the community in partnership with councillors and planning professionals.
4. A duty to cooperate
Increasingly, the competitiveness of a place depends on attracting and retaining a skilled workforce, which in turn is dependent on providing a distinctive and high quality living and working environment. In many areas it makes sense for local authorities to work together at a more strategic level, particularly on issues which affect economic development. One of the things that impacts on an area’s economic performance is the condition of the built environment, therefore the duty to cooperate should lead to better quality places.