Plan better with communities in mind, Localis report urges

Plan better with communities in mind, Localis report urges

Communities should be put at the heart of the government’s proposed planning reforms to build new developments that are more affordable, more beautiful, greener and more likely to endure for generations, the think-tank Localis has argued.

In a report published today entitled ‘Building Communities: planning for a clean and good growth future’ the place experts in conjunction with mixed tenure developer Countryside, outline how genuine community engagement through better neighbourhood plans, the use of new design codes, as well as better digital channels of communication between councils and residents, will be vital to achieving national housing targets.

Among its key recommendations, Localis calls for the widespread development of a stewardship model for the long-term investment in areas where new communities will be established, to ensure the continued provision of both physical and social infrastructure for future generations.

Other report recommendations include calls to:

  • amend Infrastructure Levy to be paid at the point of commencement on site and to include a ringfenced proportion for affordable housing provision;
  • work to develop a centralised portal where residents can access development plans and decisions for their area, in their entirety and in one place;
  • acknowledge the need for a regional approach to new building – from garden cities in the South East to greater vertical development in major cities – through the creation of new boards for regional spatial planning.

Localis chief executive, Jonathan Werran, said: “Whatever appears in the final planning bill, we have to increase trust and generate genuinely popular consent for local housing growth.  This is to ensure that the abundant build out of affordable new homes of mixed tenure, and with it the creation of lasting new communities, remains a sustainable, place-sensitive and commercially viable process.

“Each actor – central government, our councils, our communities and developers – will have their part to play in reforming the planning process so that it finally delivers at the required pace and  scale the new developments that are both wanted and attainable, and which suit their local culture, economy and environment.

“To this end, Localis’s report recommends the setting up of two separate national funds to provide firstly greater capacity for neighbourhood planning and the roll out of new design codes, to ensure homes are beautiful and locally popular, and, secondly, to pay for carbon offsetting to deliver green homes fit for the age of net zero.”

 Andrew Taylor, Group Planning Director, Countryside, said: “We are delighted to have worked with Localis on this report in supporting the pledge to keep communities at the heart of planning.

“With community-based participation at its centre, an effective placemaking process can capitalise on a local community’s assets, inspiration, and potential. This results in the creation of quality public spaces that contribute to people’s health, happiness, and well-being.”

The full report “Building Communities – planning for a clean and good growth future” is available for download here

An executive summary of “Building Communities – planning for a clean and good growth future” is available for download here