A report produced by think tank Demos, entitled ‘People Powered Planning’, highlights major concerns about the effectiveness of the British planning system.
The 32-page report, which involved surveying 1,000 UK adults, demonstrated that more than half (54%) of people did not feel involved in their local area’s planning or housing decisions.
Generation gap divided on new homes
It seems there is a divide between generations for supporting the building of new homes. Only 39% of people aged above 55 are in favour of new homes and half of this age group are likely to have been involved with the planning system, compared to 46% of young people aged under 34. The age group most in support of new housing is the 18-34s with 57% in favour.
Data taken from the survey confirmed that 47% of the public are in favour of new local housing with 27% objecting. However, the largest volume of support for new housing schemes came from renters with 60% in favour, in comparison to 42% of homeowners who backed building new homes.
Only 29% of renters have had any involvement in planning compared to 56% of homeowners. The results of the survey indicated that support of a new proposed housing development could be increased by around 10% if local residents were consulted more extensively.
Engagement in planning dominated by residents opposed to development
The report’s author, Ben Glover, said: “The planning system has been captured by those most opposed to new house-building. Engagement in the system is often dominated by those that are less supportive of new homes in their local area.”
Demos and Nationwide, which funded the report, are calling for “new forms of decision making” such as citizens’ assemblies to “encourage consensus not conflict”.
The report recommends that central government provide ring-fenced emergency funding to local planning authorities with the aim of improving their ability to involve people in planning decisions. It also suggests that central government should launch a digital planning innovation fund, enabling local planning authorities to develop innovative online consultation and engagement tools for planning.
Tony Alexander, Nationwide’s commercial lending director, said: “Better engagement with local communities is something developers should embrace not fear. Encouraging people to get involved with the planning process will help identify supporters who may be willing to champion new homes.
“Tapping into local knowledge can also make new developments better – highlighting traffic problems, supporting good design and identifying important local facilities.”