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Question Time on planning

Tomorrow sees the installation of a new government here in the UK. Gloom and Doom? Or possibility and opportunity? As the PM and the new Levelling Up Secretary (who is responsible for planning & housing development) settle into post, they might consider ten questions that I’ve put together based on many conversations with local residents across London over the last year. These will no doubt appear naïve and uninformed to many, but they represent a vacuum in the discourse heard at local community forums. Answering them will open up important conversations about future of our communities.

1. Why can’t an older person easily downsize their property within their own community, releasing larger properties for next-generation buyers?

2. Why are health impact assessments on major schemes not statutorally required, and when they are delivered they’re produced without regard to

  • knowledge about public health gained through the pandemic

  • the rise in health inequality across communities and how this manifests locally

  • the surge of publicly avajlable data on health & wellbeing

3. Why is affordable housing only provided when it is subsidised by luxury high end housing? Do LPAs not see what kind of communities this creates?

4. Why is project viability always defined by and in control of the developer? Can’t the viability of a development scheme be shared amongst stakeholders?

5. Why have so many LPAs lost any vision about planning in their local communities, and refuse to embrace any opportunity to be bold and significant in developing land for housing and commercial use?

6. Why do the majority of developers and LPAs only talk TO local residents and refrain from engaging WITH them over the course of a planning application and subsequent development?

7. Why aren’t developers who publicise their commitment to ESG principles and practice not held to account on them by LPAs?

8. Why aren’t the known links between green spaces, blue spaces and housing design with public health & wellbeing acknowledged in planning regulations and practice?

9. Why do LPAs maintain such poor quality “planning portals” for residents and the general public to access information on planning applications, resulting in costly and time-consuming FOI requests from community groups seeking essential information about the future of their communities?

10. Why aren’t the “proptech” & “plantech” tools espoused by central government for community engagement designed with the involvement of local residents and communities? How does the data that these tools both use and generate serve the interests of local residents?

So, Liz Truss and Simon Clarke, I look forward to hearing from you. And good luck in government.

Clare Delmar

Listen to Locals

5 September 2022


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