Raynsford Review: A review of the English planning system

15th January 2019

At the end of last year the final report in respect of the Raynsford Review was published.
The aim of the report was to set out a new vision for planning in England and rebuild trust in the planning process by communicating with the public as well as professionals. The report primarily focusses on the overall performance of the planning system and not on its detailed administrative management.

A number of core questions were put forward in the report to be reviewed including determining the purpose of a planning system and whether the legal basis for planning could be simplified.

The report makes a number of recommendations to reform the planning system including:

  • that the Government should legislate to create a legal purpose for the planning system as it currently lacks a clear overarching purpose;
  • enhancing the status of the Local Plan by amending statute so that any decisions made contrary to the plan would need to be much more carefully justified than at present, requiring them to be reviewed every five years and ensuring policies are necessary to secure health, safety and wellbeing of communities and individuals;
  • creating a new and simplified General Development Order to give local authorities the powers to control development and positively plan for the future;
  • developing a strong democratic and legitimate governance framework to increase accountability and community participation;
  • the establishment of an Institute of Public Debate to work alongside the National Infrastructure Commission to promote the need for a national conversation on our development needs;
  • placing a statutory duty on local planning authorities to plan for high-quality and affordable homes;
  • creating a new structure of planning authorities through a National Sustainable Development Plan, sub-regional strategic plans, local plans and then neighbourhood plans;
  • using the opportunity of further planning reform and Brexit to produce a simplified and consolidated piece of planning legislation;
  • enhancing the National Infrastructure Commission and placing it on a statutory footing; and
  • reforming the use of s106 agreements by requiring all contributions to be precisely and transparently expressed in the Local Plan so that landowners and developers can negotiate realistic prices.

The final report puts forward a large number of recommendations covering various areas of planning law. In order for them all to be implemented it is likely that the existing planning legislation will require a huge overhaul. However, with Brexit taking up the Government’s time it is unlikely that there will be large scale reform at the moment.

A full copy of the final report can be found here.