Six things you need to know about the Raynsford review

The Raynsford Review of Planning, commissioned by campaign group the Town and Country Planning Association, was published this week. Its remit was to identify the kind of planning system that England would need from 2020. Here are its key messages.

Nick Raynsford: review published yesterday
Nick Raynsford: review published yesterday

1. The planning system is increasingly generating poor outcomes. There are concerns about its ability to secure economic progress, meet housing need and tackle climate change. It "does not work effectively in the long-term public interest of communities or the nation".

2. The system needs to be refocused. It should have a new legal purpose "to positively promote the long-term sustainable development of the nation and the health, safety and wellbeing of individuals".

3. It should ensure stronger democratic and community control of development. Local plans should be made more powerful and only deviated from "in exceptional circumstances". Councils should have a legal duty to review them every five years. Control over the conversion of offices and commercial buildings to homes should be restored to planning authorities. Councils should have a duty to ensure that people have access to information and rights to participate in and challenge planning decisions that affect them.

4. The planning system should ensure that the public enjoys a bigger slice of the benefits generated by development. More of the property value increases arising from improvements created by public authorities should be captured by the public purse. Local plans should set out unequivocal public interest outcomes, such as design standards or transport infrastructure, to be secured through policy requirements, the Community Infrastructure Levy and section 106 negotiations. Planning authorities should be obliged to plan for "high-quality and affordable homes".

5. The structure of the plannng system should be simplified. English planning should have four spatial scales – neighbourhood, local, regional, and national planning – supported "where appropriate" by development corporations to deal with "particularly demanding" issues. There should be legislation to consolidate the legal changes that have occurred over the past 28 years, to integrate the differing planning regimes and to implement the review. Planning agencies should undergo a reorganisation. Government adviser the National Infrastructure Commission should prepare the national plan, advise on strategic growth issues and propose where development corporations are needed. Government agency Homes England should support the implementation of development corporations.

6. The professional duty of planners to deliver public benefit should be reinforced. The review "received a significant body of evidence from planners in both the public and private sectors about pressures to act in a way that posed serious questions about compatibility with the Royal Town Planning Institute’s code of professional conduct". Therefore, the case for adopting a "do no harm" expectation, similar to that applying to the medical professions, should be considered.

The full document can be found here. 

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