The Government’s proposed planning reforms are reckless
Architect's Climate Action Network's statement in response to the inclusion of the Planning Reforms Bill in the Queen's speech
The Architects Climate Action Network (ACAN) is dismayed by the inclusion of the controversial Planning Reforms Bill in the Queen’s speech (12.05.21). The planning reforms, which will remove democratic oversight from individual planning applications, will create a free-for-all for developers that will inevitably lead to irreversible damage being caused to the country’s wildlife and biodiversity. Furthermore, by streamlining development without adequate environmental protections laid out in Building Regulations, these reforms will increase activity that contributes towards climate change, as embodied carbon emissions will remain unchecked.
The proposals have not proceeded beyond consultation stage. MHCLG is yet to release the outcome of its public consultation on the Planning For The Future white paper, launched in August 2020. The level of criticism at the time, from organisations and industry bodies including RIBA, RTPI and TCPA, as well as from many of the Conservative Party’s own MPs, suggests that the proposals need significant revision before being presented to parliament.
The proposals are getting worse. The Times is reporting the government is scrapping the “renewal” categorisation, making all land either zoned for “growth” or “protection”. This will lead to more land zoned for “growth”, with planning permission automatically granted, this will have devastating effects on communities, ecosystems and the climate.
Why is this important? Identifying land for ‘renewal’ would place value on the existing buildings and infrastructure within a place, while emphasising the need to work with and improve what we have. In response to the climate crisis the Government should look to renewal as a key tool for lowering emissions, protecting communities, conserving resources and reducing waste.
ACAN campaigned against the planning reforms white paper when it was published last year. You can read more about our campaign against the proposals here.
“The Government’s proposed planning reforms are an absolute nightmare, being brought forward by the worst possible Government, at the worst possible time. They will result in housing developments popping up all over the country unchecked and unregulated. These proposals must not be implemented, until the Building Regulations are significantly upgraded to tackle embodied carbon emissions, and unless there are major environmental protections locked into the new system ”
Joe Giddings, ACAN’s Campaigns Coordinator
Architects’ Climate Action Network [ACAN] is a network within the built environment, taking collective action to address these issues. Formed in late 2019 the group has grown to over 1000 individuals, more than 20 working groups and campaigns as well as 10 national or regional groups from ACAN Finland to ACAN India.
Why is ACAN different?
As a climate activism organisation, ACAN directs personal expertise and singular efforts towards a common goal - systemic change in the profession and the construction industry at large. ACAN operates without commercial affiliations or support, allowing the network to act autonomously and with appropriate haste. Through collective action, ACAN is working to demand, instigate and propagate the transformation of the construction industry.
ACAN is driven by three core aims
- Decarbonisation of the built environment
- Ecological regeneration through the immediate adoption of regenerative & ecological principles - Cultural transformation of the profession
How does ACAN work?
ACAN is non-hierarchical and inclusive. Members include architects, students, designers, engineers, journalists and more. We have well established links with other organisations including Architects Declare, LETI, RIBA and UVW-SAW, and we are constantly expanding the network with ACAN groups emerging internationally.
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