UDG response to the Planning White Paper

Scattered development sites proposed to a district council following the “call for sites”. No basis for sustainable development. 

Following a series of consultation events run by the Urban Design Group over the past two months the UDG has submitted its 13 page response to the Planning White Paper. Nearly 1000 people registered for the events, with the audience including architects, civil and highway engineers, housebuilders, landscape architects, planners, surveyors, housebuilders and developers, and of course, urban designers.

Core recommendations include:

That the basis of the planning system should be a clear vision for England and its regions, cities, towns, villages and countryside, with clear objectives for economy, environment, society and the protection of land.

Many of the problems attributed to planning lie elsewhere, and solutions outside the planning system. A systems approach, working to a common vision, should be used to ensure that planning, taxation, funding, subsidies, grants, regulation, statutory duties, and technical standards work towards the vision, and do not conflict with each other. Most government departments have a role to play in this.

Ensuring planning integrates with:

  • Taxation  under the present regime, Growth Areas will be charged 0% VAT, whereas in Renewal Areas the reuse of buildings will incur VAT at 20%
  • Funding  including maintenance funding, so that local authorities are no longer reluctant to adopt high quality streets, public realm and trees
  • Transport planning  to address the continuing pattern of small car-dependent housing estates being built in open countryside
  • Technical approvals and adoption  including detailed design of highways, highway adoption standards, SUDS, utilities etc; putting national street design guidance on a statutory basis, with highway authorities under a duty to have due regard to the guidance; and introducing a national library of pre-approved detailed construction drawings that if used mean that adoption is automatic.

Introduce a Local housing needs assessment based a thorough understanding of the local area, including environmental and economic constraints and opportunities.

Make strategic urban design and planning the basis of local plans. The response suggests an amended set of stages commencing with the local authority working with Involve the local community to develop a vision for their area, while identifying potential Growth, Renewal and Protected Areas based on sustainability criteria, an assessment of the local area, and the potential to create coherent development.

Design codes; measures to ensure the quality of development, skills and human resources; demonstration projects; prototyping.


The White Paper itself acknowledges that it has addressed only some of the issues. The UDG will be aiming to hold further events to develop and refine ideas.