Business Revival Property Aspects Banner

Last chance for the plan-led system?

The Localism ActThe Localism Act, which legislated for the introduction of Neighbourhood Plans, could be the last-ditch attempt to get the plan-led system working, according to Planning Minister Nick Bowles MP.

Speaking at a private briefing at the House of Commons to over 100 industry professionals, Mr Boles believes that the plan-led system has never really worked and that this was never more highlighted than over the past decade.

The Minister outlined how he “intends to address the shortage of new homes by reforming the planning process and incentivising communities”, while “[urging] developers to benchmark the quality of new homes against whether they would be good enough for their own parents, and to think more creatively about making use of sites whilst they wait for permission to build.”

His perceived shortcomings of the current plan-led system, highlighted the period 2000 to 2010, during which the British economy had experienced some of its most prosperous growth with banks lending, developers building and house prices rising, and yet not withstanding this there had still been a consistent failure to deliver on housing supply. He went on to say that there were a number of reasons why the system has failed, citing immigration levels and an ageing population as contributing factors.

Clarifying his position on Neighbourhood plans and the Localism Act, the Minister also felt that the idea behind Localism had been misunderstood on the run up to the last election and that it hadn’t been made clear that it would require local people to step up and take responsibility for implementing Localism in their area.

In the opinion of Mr Boles, government has provided the tools to allow communities to make change for themselves, but stressed it is about communities using these tools and taking the necessary action.

The event concluded with a lively Q & A session. Among those asking the questions was planning consultant Amanda Olley, Director of Summit Planning Associates, who has spoken to Property Aspects before about Localism, Neighbourhood Plans and the key issues surrounding the plan-led system. She was able to give us her take on the event.

She commented:” It was a well organised and structured event, in a reasonably relaxed setting. I thought the Minister’s perception on the consistent failings of the plan-led system were interesting. Time will tell if the replacement of the regional tier of plan making with another that sits below the Local Plan, will turn around these consistent failings, particularly in relation to housing supply, which was the main focus of the briefing.

Time will also tell if communities empowered by Localism will take constructive responsibility and utilise the tools provided by government to engage holistically on a level that will provide the improved transparency and speed that the planning system needs to help us on the road to economic recovery.

Amanda Olley has been a Chartered Town Planner for 12 years and is an expert in her field. For more information, contact Summit Planning Associates via Tel: 01625 801800 or E-Mail: