PLANNING IS ABOUT MORE THAN ECONOMICS
A report from the Campaign to Protect Rural England claims that Kate Barker’s controversial review of land use planning published last year is deeply flawed. The CPRE argues that the narrow focus of the Barker Review on making the planning system faster and better for business, completely misses the point that planning is about getting the right development in the right place at the right time.
The report ‘Deconstructing Barker’ finds that there is no evidence for the assumption made in the Barker Review that economic growth should be the dominant factor in planning. Research now shows that economic growth is no longer increasing life satisfaction in the UK and the Review is based on a premise for which there is no justification.
The main focus of the Barker Review is also criticized as naïve and simplistic particularly in dealing with costs and benefits. Many of the apparent costs of planning, such as investment foregone or the extra expense to developers of complying with planning requirements, are really benefits of the planning system the report argues. The result of such costs can be the prevention of poor quality development and the improvement of schemes to meet environmental and social goals.
By concentrating solely on planning’s contribution to economic growth the Barker Review fails to understand the planning system’s role, or recognise its success, in integrating and reconciling multiple environmental and quality of life objectives. It does not provide a useful guide to planning reform and many of its recommendations are likely to weaken what is one of the most powerful tools to deliver sustainable development.
The report concludes that there is an urgent need for the planning system to be developed, strengthened and better connected with other interventions to drive rapid cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. There is also a need to give greater recognition to the long term public value of the countryside and improving the quality of life.