​Action Required: Respond to the Government’s Planning White Paper

23 October 2020 | Posted in Planning , Laura Brook
​Action Required: Respond to the Government’s Planning White Paper
Bluebells (c) Emma Varley

By Laura Brook
Conservation Officer

We need you to take action and respond to the Government’s Planning White Paper – the biggest shake-up of the planning system since the Second World War.

Engaging with the planning system already forms a huge part of our work to stand up for wildlife in Sussex. We demand polices that protect and enhance biodiversity and we push back against development allocations that compromise our natural environment. The Government’s Planning White Paper intends to simplify the current planning process to speed up development – and this will put nature, and nature’s recovery, at risk.

The Government’s aim is to put all land into one of three categories (growth areas, renewal areas or protected areas) and to speed things up by granting automatic permission for development in areas deemed suitable. But there is very little detail on how these areas will be assigned and we’re concerned that the proposed online system will be driven primarily by desktop data. This will not paint an accurate picture and will fail to protect wildlife. It’s vital that every stage of planning and decision making is informed by up-to-date ecological data, on-the-ground surveys and expert knowledge. Any changes to the planning system should also complement the much-needed commitments coming forward in the new Environment Bill and Defra’s 25 year Environment Plan, so that the planning system will create a resilient and sustainable future rather than focusing solely on housing numbers.

It's highly likely that these reforms will happen, so we need to do everything we can to improve the proposals and make sure the Government understands that people need nature on their doorstep. 

We need a planning system that’s fit for a wilder future, so we’ve set out five principles to ensure nature and people are fully integrated into the proposed planning reforms:

  1. Wildlife recovery and people’s easy access to nature must be at the heart of planning reform. A Nature Recovery Network should underpin local plans and inform the identification of growth, renewal and protected areas
  2. Nature protection policies and standards must not be weakened, and environmental impacts must be fully assessed before any development is permitted
  3. We want to see a new Wildbelt designation to protect areas of degraded land that are in recovery
  4. Local people must be able to engage with the planning system and have all the information they need to understand the local impacts of any proposed development
  5. All planning decisions must be based on robust, accurate, detailed and thorough ecological information

We’ve created an e-action to help you have your say – the consultation closes on 29 October, so please act now and help us put nature back into planning.


  • Helen wimpenny:

    23 Oct 2020 15:51:00

    Please put the environment and nature at the heart of planning.

  • Emma Laurens:

    23 Oct 2020 17:37:00

    It is distressing to see planning not listening to trusted custodians like the Sussex Wildlife Trust eg. new roads/railways.
    We have to look after this environment and share it responsibly for our health, our wildlife, plants and fungi.

  • Audrey Jarvis:

    23 Oct 2020 17:45:00

    Steps to promote an increase in biodiversity, must be at the heart of all planning reforms. We need to act now and act quickly to help wildlife to recover and be resilient to climate change.

  • Rita Burton:

    23 Oct 2020 18:10:00

    It is absolutely vital, to my mind, that full account of the impact on nature and wildlife should be considered in every planning application. Our wild places are fast disappearing and our wildlife likewise, with fewer and fewer places to live.

  • Patricia Childerhouse:

    23 Oct 2020 19:58:00

    I support the idea of a Nature Recovery Network that must be taken into account in planning decisions so that biodiversity has a chance to recover. Recent events have shown how vital it is that people have access to the natural world near their homes.

  • Caroline Goode:

    24 Oct 2020 06:48:00

    The algorithm is not fit for purpose.
    CPRE report shows sufficient brownfield sites to fulfill our requirement for years to come, yet the govt wants to press ahead with reckless plans for new towns that will ruin the countryside forever. It’s not just ruining the beauty, it is destroying the habitats of many wildlife species and contributing to irreversible climate change.
    Planning fails to take into account the joined up nature of woodland and hedgerows, so councils are mollified by promises to save a tiny patch of woodland or to plant a few saplings.
    This new planning strategy is a disaster. It is literally making me feel mentally ill

  • Rachel Greef:

    24 Oct 2020 09:24:00

    The UK has always prided itself on having high standards in environmental protection and we have a lot of expertise to aid us so we must use this at a local level to protect and assign correct definitions to land zones and planning. Don’t throw away all we have achieved and our future in one go!

  • Simon Beal:

    25 Oct 2020 09:29:00

    The pandemic has radically changed out patterns of work. There is no longer a need for many workers to travel to an office daily. An unwelcome consequence could be that our city and town centres stagnate. To manage this, the Government could use the opportunity afforded by this planning review to convert redundant office and retail space into homes and a mix of leisure facilities. This would create the additional homes that people need, maintain vibrancy and economic activity within out towns and cities. Building out-of-town housing will create too many infrastructure problems that will be incredibly costly to remediate. In addition, town living can encourage independence from our cars, whereas rural living encourages the opposite, with dire consequences for our carbon reduction goals.

  • David Stevenson:

    25 Oct 2020 11:14:00

    This is another example of this government becoming undemocratic. The planning process must include proper public consultation, otherwise greedy developers will run amok over our country, a job which they are already doing pretty well, so they shouldn’t be encouraged to do it more, the only advantage being to further line their pockets. Note to government: you have messed up the Covid management, please don’t also mess up the planning process.

  • Bridget wood:

    26 Oct 2020 07:07:00

    The government and all those sitting at desks need to realise the absolutely VITAL importance of engaging with wildlife experts and to include localism. Nature is more important than ever, it cannot be violated.

  • Ros:

    27 Oct 2020 06:47:00

    We have a responsibility to insure there is a sustainable world left for futures generations. They too have the right to enjoy beauty in the natural world. We need to preserve what we have and restore some of what has been lost. The pandemic has shown us all how much we need green space and nature. We need to do all we can to protect it.

  • Jonas N:

    28 Oct 2020 08:26:00

    We have to protect our nature, now more than ever.

  • Julie Louise Upton:

    28 Oct 2020 12:16:00

    There are over 200,000 homes which have been empty for more than 6 months and 66,000 hectares of Brown Field sites currently in England. Following discussion and assessment of the environmental impact at a local level of these sites they should be the focus of any future development plans.


    28 Oct 2020 14:53:00

    ok we need new homes but there are a helluva lot of empty properties around the UK and a lot of brown field sites that owners will not sell till the price of land rockets, this should not be allowed. brown not green! protect our environment to protect us!

  • Marilyn Dismore:

    29 Oct 2020 12:36:00

    I have been trying, over a period of several days, to respond to the Government’s questionnaire on their Planning for the Future White Paper. The white paper abounds with sweet words, e.g. “we have introduced greater democratic accountability”, “we will streamline the planning process with more democracy taking place more effectively at the plan-making stage”, “ensure the planning system supports our efforts to combat climate change and maximises environmental benefits” but nowhere does it give any indication as to how this would be done. They plan to give automatic outline permission for areas for substantial development without saying the basis on which these areas will be selected and without any indication as to how (if at all) their decisions may be appealed. They also plan to have any data available for access “by software used across the public sector and also by external PropTech entrepreneurs” – not, apparently in hard copy form which would be accessible to the ordinary citizen who does not have access to such software.

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