Simplified planning – a Trojan horse for a developed countryside?

  • Environmental Planning

    © nicksaberi at

    The new NPPF will reduce over 1,000 pages of environmental planning regulation to just 52 pages in a bid to improve investment from developers in the UK.

  • There are some concerns that the simplification of national planning, coupled with the delegation of plan development to local communities, will mean these communities are quickly expected to become “experts”.
  • A key concern is the ability of local communities to develop appropriate local plans. Land management is a vastly complex arena, and citizens are likely to need up skilling programmes to help them participate in and draft local plans.
  • Additionally, by delegating responsibility at the local scale, national scale planning may become fragmented and incoherent. There is a definitive need for UK-wide and global planning to meet food, energy and water security challenges. Local decision making may for example make valuable agricultural land vulnerable to development in some areas, which could have UK-wide implications for food security.

Government may need to support community up-skilling initiatives and fund outreach programmes to ensure local decision makers have an understanding of the wider environmental implications of their decisions.

For more information, visit:

About Hayley Shaw

Knowledge Exchange Manager at Cranfield University's Centre for Environmental Risks and Futures (CERF). Sharing the latest news from Cranfield, and insights from across the industry. All things risk, environment, and the future.
This entry was posted in Land Use and Land Management. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Simplified planning – a Trojan horse for a developed countryside?

  1. Hayley Shaw says:

    Mark – this is right up your street! Do your worst!!! 🙂

  2. Dr M C Smith says:

    Thanks Hayley – I think we are in agreement with (most) of this! 🙂

    Some context – the land use planning system in the UK is based on the nationalisation of the right to develop land, and the new system is not changing this which should limit the impact of any change (we can not have a free for all). As you say, the simplification of guidance may affect local level decision making, and could result in decisions being taken in the local rather than national (or international) interest. For instance, is the countryside a working, industrial environment or a natural environment to be conserved (and who exactly gets to decide this?). It should also be noted that while decisions will be made by local representatives, they should still be based on recommendations by skilled trained, professional planners accredited by the RTPI, and one would hope they can continue to function without 1000’s of pages of government guidance to wade through!

    Personally, I think all that will result is a lot of confusion and inactivity, while consultants and lawyers make a lot of money (as happened previously when we ‘simplified’ planning in the 1980’s!) In any case, the shelf life of any planning system in England is around 10 years (barely more than plans produced under it) and we will probably see moves in the opposite direction before too long if history is anything to go by. The point being, this could actually be something quite shoft term. Therefore, the real trojan horse is the uncertainty which the system changes create and nobody likes (oh, and of course England’s seeming inability / reluctance to develop and retain a strategic planning system!)

    As an aside, only 52 pages of spatial planning guidance, but 85 pages on environmental risk?…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s