2. Planning White Paper

What's happening?

The Planning White Paper Planning for the Future was published for 12 weeks’ consultation on 6 August 2020. In his foreword, the Prime Minister described the proposed reforms to the planning system as the most radical since the Second World War and made clear the intention to "tear it down and start again." We recognise that any long-running system will need to be reviewed and updated. The English planning system has been in place for over 70 years and reform is urgently needed - but the proposed changes in the white paper will make a bad situation much worse: failing nature, people, and local democracy. 

Thankfully, many people, organisations and even MP's responded with concerns to the consultation and we believe this influenced the Government. All through 2021 we were expecting an offcial response from the Government to the consultation, but this hasn't happened yet. Instead, there was a shift in departments with Michael Gove becoming the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and ordering a "complete rethink" of planning. 

We have now heard that there will be a White Paper on 'Levelling Up' produced sometime in 2022. There will then be a Government response to this consultation and the Planning White Paper consultation leading to a new Bill in parliament covering planning, levelling up and regeneration. 

The Wildlife Trust are working with many other national organisations in order to influence these documents and try to get the best outcome for people and wildlife. 

What was wrong with the Planning White Paper?

We are concerned that the reforms:

  • Are highly likely to exacerbate nature’s decline
  • Fail to integrate nature into people’s lives - something that is now recognised as essential for our health and wellbeing
  • Undermine the democratic process and provide little opportunity to influence individual development proposals

Read Sussex Wildlife Trusts response to the consultation: Sussex Wildlife Trust response to the planning for the future consultation. This is only a summary of issues as our main points have been incorporated into a much longer and more detailed response from The Wildlife Trusts nationally which you can read here: TWT Final response to the Planning for the Future

We need a planning system that's fit for our future

We've set out five principles to ensure nature and people can be fully integrated into the proposed planning reforms:

  1. Wildlife recovery and people’s easy access to nature at the heart of planning reform. A Nature Recovery Network must underpin local plans, inform the identification of any zoning and be integrated into all areas.
  2. Nature protection policies and standards must not be weakened, and assessment of environmental impact must take place before development is permitted
  3. Address the ecological and climate crises by protecting new land put into recovery by creating a new designation – Wildbelt. A new designation is needed to secure the future of the land that we are putting into recovery so that we can reach at least 30% of land for nature by 2030.
  4. People and local stakeholders to be able to engage with the planning system at the point where it is meaningful to them and sufficient information is available to understand the impacts – on nature and on local communities
  5. Decisions based on accurate nature data. Local Plans, areas and development proposals must be informed by robust, accurate, detailed and thorough ecological information.

How do I get involved?

This consultation is now closed. However, there

Planning White Paper

Our Preliminary Analysis of the Government's consultation: