The Government has today (6 August, 2020) published its consultation on proposals for reform of the planning system in England. 

Planning for the Future proposes a new focus on sustainability and promises reforms that “will leave an inheritance of environmental improvement – with environmental assets protected, more green spaces provided, more sustainable development supported, new homes that are much more energy-efficient and new places that can become the heritage of the future, built closer to where people want to live and work to reduce our reliance on carbon-intensive modes of transport.”

Living Streets, the UK charity for everyday walking says these plans won’t mean anything unless they deliver real change at the local level.

family going for a walk

Stephen Edwards, Director of Policy and Communications, Living Streets said:

“It’s incredibly encouraging to see the proposals acknowledge that where we live has a ‘measurable effect on our physical and mental health: on how much we walk (and) how tense we feel on the daily journey to work or school’. This builds on the positive announcements the Government has already made on walking and cycling.

“However, it is critical that reforms deliver real change at the local level. For too long, new developments have created car-dependent households, resulting in more traffic on our roads and undermining national efforts to cut congestion, reduce air pollution and carbon emissions and support active lifestyles.

“Designs need to be more walking and cycling-friendly, ensuring developments are properly integrated with local shops, schools, green spaces and public transport networks, so we can build towards a green recovery from COVID-19 rather than stumbling back into car dependency.

“The challenge is ensuring that these aspects of design which aim to reduce our reliance on carbon-intensive transport and support walkable places are not seen as optional extras by housing developers and local authority planners but are instead embedded through the whole planning process. For this to be realised, the reforms need to be accompanied by strong walking design guidance at the national level and genuine community engagement to deliver places that are more walkable and sustainable."