Radical deregulation of planning bad news for place-making and local communities


Britain’s oldest housing and planning charity, the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA), has expressed its concern about the implications of the Government’s announcement of further significant deregulation to planning. This morning the Prime Minister announced the introduction of US-style zonal planning for brownfield sites, and the removal of a range of controls that are vital to ensure we build high-quality places.


The TCPA fully supports the Government’s aspiration to build more homes to help solve the housing crisis. However, today’s announcements mean that local communities will have no control over the quality of many of the homes built in their areas. By allowing large numbers of new homes to be created without going through the usual planning processes, there is a clear risk that we will build poor quality developments which increase the pressure on community facilities such as roads, schools and doctors’ surgeries. The TCPA’s concerns focus on:


  • Making permanent the temporary changes to permitted development rules so that offices can be converted into homes without the need for planning permission. This risks creating poor quality housing with no space for children to play; no car parking; and no consideration of the need for more local school places, GP surgeries and other community facilities and infrastructure.
  • Granting outline planning permission for any housing built on brownfield land. In effect, this represents the introduction of zonal planning – a system that can work well if properly implemented with detailed procedures to ensure quality – but represents a major change to English planning that the Government is introducing with no consultation, and no safeguards to ensure we build high quality places.


Kate Henderson, TCPA Chief Executive said:

 “The decision to extend permitted development from office to residential seriously undermines the ability to create decent homes in vibrant communities. The Government says it is committed to localism and that it wants planning to give power to local communities. However, today’s announcements mean that local communities will have even less say over how their neighbourhoods are developed.”


Dr Hugh Ellis, head of policy at the TCPA commented:

“Today’s announcement marks a major deregulation of local planning and the loss of community control over large parts of the urban environment.  It is worrying that this has come at a time when we know we need smart green cities that can deal with climate change and provide healthy environments for ordinary people. These announcements are a missed opportunity to ensure we create high quality, successful and climate-resilient places.”


The TCPA is currently undertaking a major new project, Planning4People, which pushes for strong and democratic planning system which puts the needs of ordinary people at the heart of planning. The Planning4People  Manifesto will be launched on 21 October in Parliament by Helen Hayes MP.


Kate Henderson added:

 “As we strive to address the housing crisis and build the homes that the nation desperately needs, it is vital that we have a strong focus on quality as well as quantity, and ensure that the needs of ordinary people remain at the heart of planning. Planning has the power to create wonderful places and multiple benefits for our society. However, the persistent deregulation of planning is removing this power and is damaging our ability to deliver the high quality places that the nation needs.”