The Bartlett School of Planning


Five Radical Ideas for a Better Planning System

15 April 2015

Five Radical Ideas for a Better Planning System

Five Radical Ideas for a Better Planning System

A group of academics at the Bartlett School of Planning have published “Five Radical Ideas for a Better Planning System”, a proposal for urgent change to the current UK planning system centred around five key principles. 

First, the planning system needs to put well-being rather than the pursuit of economic growth at its core. A reliance on market-led development will not deliver the towns and cities we need and want.

Second, genuine decentralisation is essential. The current approach combines centralised decision-making with ‘localism’ that suggests planning can be done on the cheap. Instead planning powers should be devolved to the regional and city scales, set within an agreed national spatial plan.

Third, we need to recognise that regulation is an important and valuable part of the planning toolbox. It is not a barrier to growth; almost 90% of planning applications are approved. Rather it is essential for delivering environmental protection and affordable housing.

Fourth, land reform is needed if the planning system is to deliver in the public interest. Debate on this should consider capture of the uplift in land value through public land ownership or land taxation. Community land ownership should also be facilitated, as is happening in Scotland.

Finally, planning debates should involve more people and they should be relevant enough for people to want to get involved. Public participation needs to be creative and well-resourced, ensuring everyone has the opportunity to be heard.

Together these measures can ensure that the planning system provides for a better quality environment, a fairer society and strong city and regional economies. The authors of the proposal call on the political parties in the run up to the General Election to engage in debate on how to implement them. 

Visit the Five Radical Ideas website and read the proposals in full.