A significant group of representative bodies involved with local government and community activities have sent an open letter to the government warning about changes to the planning system and the way decisions are made that risk killing a new community spirit kindled by the response to the Covid-19 crisis.

Led by the Local Government Association, the letter was signed by the National Association of Local Councils, Royal Town Planning Institute, Town and Country Planning Association, Civic Voice, London Forum of Amenity and Civic Societies and others, and sent on July 16th 2020.

The full text of the letter appears below:

Keep planning local


Covid-19 has demonstrated the incredible spirit of communities uniting to support each other and fight this deadly virus.

It should be they who drive the national recovery, with the power and voice to shape their local area so that it is a place in which they are proud to live, work and enjoy their time, and where everyone has an opportunity to reach their full potential.

People want their local area to have high-quality, affordable homes built in the right places, supported by the right infrastructure, providing enough schools, promoting greener travel and tackling climate change.

This can only be achieved through a local planning system with public participation at its heart, enabling councils to make places resilient, prosperous and capable of meeting the needs of their communities. It means beautiful areas and better homes.

We urge the UK Government to keep planning in England local.

Any suggestion that planning is a barrier to house-building is a myth. Nine in 10 planning applications are approved by councils, while more than a million homes given planning permission in the last decade have not yet been built.

Taking further planning powers away from communities and councils will only deprive them of the ability to define the area they live in and know best. It risks giving developers the freedom to ride roughshod over local areas.

If the country is to come back stronger from Covid-19 then local communities must be at the heart of the recovery.

Councillor James Jamieson
Chairman, Local Government Association
Fiona Howie
Chief Executive, Town and Country Planning Association
Seán O’Reilly
Director, Institute of Historic Building Conservation
Alan Jones
President, Royal Institute of British Architects
Councillor Mark Crane
District Councils’ Network
Councillor Philip Atkins
County Councils Network
Councillor Sue Baxter
Chairman, National Association of Local Councils
Crispin Truman
Chief Executive of CPRE
Nigel Riglar
President, Adept
Richard Morris
President, Planning Officers Society
Peter Eversden
Chair, London Forum of Amenity and Civic Societies
Victoria Hills
Chief Executive, Royal Town Planning Institute
Ian Harvey
Executive Director, Civic Voice
Gavin Smart
Chief Executive, Chartered Institute of Housing
Cllr Cecilia Motley
Chair, Rural Services Network
Jonathan Werran
Chief Executive, Localis