When you’re right, you can’t be too radical

Felix Shaw

If like us you’ve spent the past week deep in election fever you’d be forgiven for missing the Bartlett School of Planning’s new report, ‘Five Radical Ideas for a Better Planning System’. It’s well worth a read and in summary calls for:
A rediscovery of planning’s original purpose – enhancing wellbeing rather than simply promoting economic growth at all costs.
Much greater decentralisation of planning powers, with a focus on regional frameworks.
The protection of planning regulations rather than a move towards de-regulation.
Land reform to enable communities to take control of local land assets for the purpose of community development.
Tackling the democratic deficit in the planning system by using new technology to bring planning debates to a wider audience.
So far, so radical, but what are the chances of any of the main parties actually implementing these ideas in the next Parliament? Fortunately this week also saw the publication of their manifestos, so how do they compare?
The Conservatives have pledged to “ensure local people have more control over planning and protect the green belt”. We can expect a definite commitment to empowering communities and furthering decentralisation.

Radicalness – 2/5

Labour also seem to be firmly behind greater devolution, pledging to pass an English Devolution Act which will hand “£30 billion of resources and powers to English city and county regions”. Also pledged are new powers to stop the clustering of payday lenders and betting shops – enhancing the wellbeing of people and high streets.

Radicalness – 2/5

The Liberal Democrats are committed to redressing the democratic deficit in the planning process through the creation of a community right of appeal when planning decisions go against an approved local plan. They also want to ensure new developments promote walking, cycling, car sharing and public transport, along with improved access to green spaces. The Lib Dems also back further devolution, building on City Deals and Growth Deals.

Radicalness – 3/5

UKIP say they “genuinely support local communities having a greater say over what happens in their locality”. They intend to allow communities to hold binding referendums to overturn large-scale developments, call for scrapping the NPPF and a relaxation of planning regulations, in particular on the conversion of office and commercial space to residential use.

Radicalness – 1/5

The Green’s manifesto is arguably the most ‘radical’. They want to scrap the NPPF, introduce a community right of appeal and transfer public land into community land trusts, and split big regeneration sites into smaller plots. They also support a range of new planning regulations including a requirement that all new homes use communal heating schemes where practicable and are built to Passivhaus standards.

Radicalness – 4/5

The old adage that when you’re right you can’t be too radical will be put to the test after May 7th. Enjoy the election.

n.b. Radicalness score does not indicate Local Dialogue support.