Renewal plan 'flawed'

The coalition government's planning reforms are unlikely to boost the regeneration of deprived areas, MPs have warned.

The communities and local government select committee this week published the final report of its inquiry into the coalition's approach to regeneration.

The committee examined the planning system's impact on regeneration schemes and concluded that there have been few negative consequences. If anything, the current system - in particular the brownfield first and town centre first policies - have proven helpful, the report says.

It also dismisses government suggestions, set out in the policy guidance Regeneration to Enable Growth, published in January, that planning reforms will provide significant benefits for regeneration, saying: "The government may have good reasons for its proposed reforms to the planning system, but it is not clear that they will have a significant bearing upon regeneration.

"Planning has in fact brought significant benefits to regeneration, in terms of coordination, community involvement and town centre preservation."

The report quotes Chris Brown, chief executive of the Igloo Regeneration Fund, who told the inquiry: "It would probably have been better for regeneration if we had just left the planning system alone, because the planning system has not really been a problem for regeneration."

Lobby group the Town and Country Planning Association told the inquiry that the abolition of regional planning policy is likely to "reinforce the long-term patterns of spatial inequalities in England" by giving rise to an "incentive scheme for housing which rewards high-market-demand areas and penalises renewal areas with high levels of demolitions".

The report also criticises ministers for having "no adequate strategy to address the complex problems faced by England's most deprived communities". It warns: "It is not clear that the government appreciates the scale of the challenge."

A Department for Communities and Local Government spokesman said: "Our planning reforms will give greater powers to communities and support economic growth and so will help the regeneration of our towns and cities."

The select committee report is available via PlanningResource. co.uk/go/referencesection.


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