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Raynsford review aims for ‘fairer’ planning system

Words: Simon Wicks
Nick Raynsford

A root-and-branch review of the English planning system aims to see how it can be made ‘fairer, better resourced and capable of tackling the major challenges which confront the nation’.

The review, led by former Labour housing and planning minister Nick Raynsford, has been motivated by “widespread concerns” that the planning process is unable to deliver places that successfully balance the needs of economy, environment and community well-being.

Housing and climate change were identified as particular areas where the current planing system was failing to meet the needs of communities.

Launching a call for evidence, Raynsford, who is also president of the Town and Country Planning Association, said: “More than ever we need a planning system which commands the confidence of the public and delivers outcomes of which we can feel proud.

“After too many years of piecemeal changes and tinkering with the system, we need to go back to first principles and seek to develop a practical blueprint for the future of planning in England. That is the objective of this review.”

The review is kicking off with a formal call for evidence and the promise of a series of ‘engagement events’ over the next 18 months – with the first in York on 11 July.

Overall, the Raynsford review has three aims:

  • To engage constructively all those interested in the built environment about how we can deliver better placemaking through a fairer and more effective planning system.
  • To set out a positive agenda following the outcomes of the general election and planning hiatus.
  • To set out a new vision for planning in England and rebuild trust in the planning process by communicating with the public as well as professionals.

Raynsford is being supported in his work by a ‘task force’ that includes:

  • Lord Kerslake, former head of the civil service and chair of Peabody
  • Kate Henderson, chief executive of the TCPA
  • Anna Rose, incoming head of the Planning Advisory Service
  • Yvonne Rydin, professor of planning, environment and public policy at the Bartlett School
  • Chris Shepley, former chief planning inspector for England and Wales
  • Tom Fyans, interim chief executive of the Campaign to Protect Rural England

Task force member – and Planner columnist – Chris Shepley said: “There has been a period of rapid change in the planning system but this has not always been accompanied by a strategy or vision for its future. We need a longer-term focus in order to produce a strong and stable planning system.”

The RTPI said it supported the review. Planning policy officer Harry Burchill said: “The effective and efficient functioning of the planning system is the cornerstone of a fair and prosperous society. The RTPI welcomes this review and is pleased to contribute its policy and research expertise which demonstrates how better planning can contribute to a range of challenges, notably the housing crisis.”

Read more about the Raynsford Review on the TCPA website