Planning Bill: Damian Collins, MP’s Response

The Palace of Westminster at Sunset; Mike Gimelfarb – Public Domain

To Mark Brophy

Thank you for contacting me about the Planning Bill. Please accept my apologies for the delay in responding; I am receiving a lot of correspondence at the moment.

I was sorry to learn of your concerns about the Government’s Planning Bill, currently before Parliament. I think that everyone deserves a place to call their own and I welcome efforts to make home ownership accessible to even more people. While house prices have soared since the Millennium, with England seeing an increase at one of the fastest rates in Europe, the planning system has been a barrier to building homes which are affordable, where families want to raise children and build their lives.

By the age of 30, those born between 1981 and 2000 are half as likely to be homeowners as those who were born between 1946 and 1965.

Let me assure you that strengthening environmental protections and enhancing the Green Belt remains at the heart of approaches to reforming the planning system. These reforms will not change the existing strong protections already in place for our Green Belt and greenfield sites. The Planning Bill will further reinforce the commitment to maintaining our unique heritage through a requirement for new housing to be built in respect of the local environment. 

The Planning Bill also seeks to decrease the time that it takes for developments to go through the planning system, ensuring that homes and infrastructure across England can be delivered more quickly – and I completely agree with you that improvements to vital infrastructure must be both effective and sustainable. 

Our current planning system is the single largest barrier to delivering the homes we need in this country, and I welcome that reforms will make the system more accessible. In doing this, locally-elected councillors will be given control over what to build where – extending participation and empowering local communities to shape their own future.   

I am delighted that the Bill will make the design of homes and neighbourhoods central to plan making. Under its provisions, local communities will be able to develop their own locally popular design codes which will be transformed into the standard for all new buildings and public spaces in their area. This approach is already being piloted in 14 local councils across England, and has been the gold standard for many new developments such as those built by the Duchy of Cornwall. On top of this, measures are being introduced to harness the value of digital plan making in order to engage local communities with the planning system in a more active and meaningful manner.
 
Thank you once again for taking the time to write.

Kind regards,
 
Damian Collins

Member of Parliament for Folkestone and Hythe

House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA

[Read Mark Brophy’s reply.]