Rescue have responded to the consultation on the Planning for the Future White Paper.
RESCUE members recognise that there is an urgent need for new housing and that such housing needs to be affordable to the many who are now excluded from the housing market and that it must address the critical issue of climate change. We laud the ambition of the White Paper to tackle:
‘the shortage of beautiful, high quality homes and places where people want to live and work; combating climate change; improving biodiversity; supporting sustainable growth in all parts of the country and rebalancing our economy; delivering opportunities for the construction sector, upon which millions of livelihoods depend; the ability of more people to own assets and have a stake in our society; and our capacity to house the homeless and provide security and dignity.’
However we see no evidence in the White Paper that the current proposals will deliver this additional housing nor that it shows any understanding of the current complexities of development planning, either socially, practically or economically. We are concerned that the White Paper is focussed solely on housing and ignores entirely any other forms of planning led development and regulation (e.g. commercial, industrial, transport, environmental, etc.). We are also concerned that it appears that government guidance is coming from limited sources with vested interests and that as it stands it has no chance of delivering on its aims. We believe that the current proposals will not deliver more good quality affordable homes than the present system and that there will be significant detrimental impact on local heritage and the historic environment, the consideration, protection and enhancement of which is currently embedded in the National Planning Policy Framework.
The local historic environment is a key element in developing the sense of place so critical to the local societies that we want to allow to grow and develop. New discoveries from archaeology and historic building recording are at the forefront of this, providing new information about how communities were formed and interacted in the past.
RESCUE is concerned about how little reference there is to cultural heritage and the historic environment in the White Paper and this seems to reflect a lack of understanding about how they are accommodated within development in the current system, which has developed, with adaptations, to suit both developers and society since its introduction in 1990. There is now an efficient and largely well understood process in place which allows developers and heritage planning professionals to assess risk and plan for its mitigation well in advance of development. This process largely avoids both unexpected discoveries with their consequent costs and delays and loss and damage to important archaeological sites. We see no evidence that the new proposals will limit developers’ exposure to the risk of cost and delay by unexpected discoveries in the way that the current system does.
Read our full response below: