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#Planning4People Manifesto Launch

Tom Kenny

#Planning4People aims to rebuild planning to focus on meeting people’s needs. We recently attended the launch event in London and here our policy officer Tom reflects on what he learned and its importance for common good land use.

Planning4People is a new education and advocacy project from the TCPA, based on four key principles. The Manifesto contains a number of demands for various stakeholders including government, aimed at creating a planning system that is:

  • democratic and fair, with people at the heart of the process;

  • guided by a powerful definition of sustainable development which emphasises social justice as a key outcome;

  • powerful; so it can regulate change and

  • responsible; so that it meets the basic needs of those who struggle most today, without restricting the ability of future generations to live decent lives.

It is backed by many academics and professionals in the built environment, and a diverse range of organisations, including Shared Assets. For those not aware of the current state of planning, these proposals may not seem radical. However, there is near consensus from those involved in the event that planning currently fails to deliver on any of those principles (and that it is long past time to change that). We think that these principles recognise the potential of planning to shape the places we live in to help make them work for everyone.

The event consisted of an introduction from the TCPA followed by two panel discussions, one with politicians discussing community engagement and the other with some creative thinkers proposing new visions. In the introduction what jumped out for me was how strongly this project has captured the imagination of those involved. Kate Henderson and Hugh Ellis from the TCPA, and Barry Knight from the Webb Memorial Trust (the funder), all evangelized on the potential of planning to enable social change. I was also delighted to hear the TCPA’s Chair Peter Hetherington, who has written so powerfully about British land use in his books and articles.

In the first panel, Helen Hayes MP (Labour), John Howell MP (Conservatives), and Baroness Kate Parminter (Liberal Democrats), discussed ‘Engaging Communities in plan- and place-making’. While it was great to see them at the event, it was a little disappointing that the focus was on engaging communities, rather than some of the more radical aspects of the manifesto.

In the second panel:

  • Pam Warhust talked about her practical experience making great spaces with Incredible Edible Todmorden.
  • Finn Williams talked about NOVUS, a group set up to encourage public planners to take pride in their roles and to develop new ideas to make planning and places work better for people.
  • Neil McINroy from CLES talked about the decline not just of planning but of the social contract in general, and the potential role of planning in addressing this.
  • Liane Hartley finished up by talking about her experiences setting up her consultancy Mend London, and Urbanistas UK, who are focused on empowering women with a passion for the built environment.

Taken together the speakers were a reminder that despite the deep problems with planning, there are reasons to be positive about its future.

Planning4People seems to be mostly focused on urban land use and housing in particular, so it has not explicitly discussed many of the issues faced by land-based social and community enterprises. However reading the manifesto, it still feels like a home, or at least a framework, for work on how planning can help these groups. The involvement of Peter Hetherington is also reassuring, given his commitment to tackling issues around agricultural land use. As such we are delighted to support Planning4People, and to talk about it with anyone that will listen! Moving forward we will also explore how we can feed in the views of the groups we work with to the process, on issues like:

  • Reforming land use classes and designations to support a diverse range of activities in addition to traditional land management
  • Using the planning process to facilitate the allocation of more land for community management

You can read about and sign up to Planning4People at the TPCA’s website, and you can also follow them on twitter @SocialPlanning and @theTCPA.

You can read more about our policy work on planning in our latest report. If you are involved with a land-based social or community enterprise and would like to talk about your experiences with the planning system and what could have improved them, please contact us at hello@sharedassets.org.uk.

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