Planning reform: For and against

Head to head

White paper taskforce expert Chris Katkowski says the reforms will simplify planning while TCPA chair Mary Parsons thinks it will reduce democratic oversight


Chris Katkowski QC, Landmark Chambers

If like me, your working life brings you into frequent contact with planning and you’ve ever thought to yourself, ‘that’s pretty daft, there must be a better way of doing things,’ then imagine how it felt to be asked by the government to work up radical reforms to improve the planning system. I was a member of the taskforce that came up with the ideas in the white paper, Planning for the Future.

These are big ideas about big things. A wholly reimagined system of local plans without hundreds of pages of often inconsistent words that you need a lawyer to interpret; instead a readily understandable visual plan of what is permitted where, what’s OK in principle and what is protected from development. This seems sensible to me.


Mary Parsons, chair of the Town Country Planning Association

As a Building Better Building Beautiful (BBBB) commissioner there is much to be welcomed in the planning white paper. There are many recommendations from this commission’s report, Living with Beauty that are almost copied across. Bringing a stubbornly analogue planning system into the digital age. Simplifying the local plan development stage and using it to push democracy upstream by properly engaging people in determining the future vision for their area.

But there are a few bits that were missed. The devil is in the detail, for example requiring minimum standards for all homes whether new or built using permitted development rights which I hope will not get lost completely downstream.

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