UK Land Use Policy from the Government Department of Transport,
Local Government and the Regions, at
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Planning Green Paper - Planning: Delivering a Fundamental Change

Chapter 1:
The planning system we need: our objectives for planning

1.1 This Green Paper is about delivering fundamental change to the planning system (see endnote 1).

1.2 England is one of the most crowded countries in the world. Only 8% of the land surface is urbanised, but over 90% of our population lives in urban areas. We need good planning to deliver development that is sustainable and which creates better places in which people can live and work.

1.3 A proper planning system is vital to our quality of life. People can be dramatically affected by the quality of their environment and they care deeply about new development and how it changes the surroundings in which they live and work. That is why we need a planning system that fully engages people in shaping the future of their communities and local economies. And that is why we need to use the planning system to set out a positive vision for the future development of our communities: seeing planning as a positive tool rather than merely a negative brake on development.

1.4 A successful planning system will promote economic prosperity by delivering land for development in the right place and at the right time. It will encourage urban regeneration by ensuring that new development is channelled towards existing town centres rather than adding to urban sprawl. It will help to conserve greenfield land and re-use urban brownfield land. It will value the countryside and our heritage while recognising that times move on. It has a critical part to play in achieving the Government's commitment to sustainable development.

1.5 To be successful, the planning system needs to have the confidence of many different groups. These include almost half a million direct customers who are applicants for planning permission every year and who want a quick, predictable and efficient service; families and individuals affected by plans and planning applications; and the wider community who care about proposals for the future development of their area. All parts of the community - individuals, organisations and businesses - must be able to make their voice heard.

1.6 The customers of planning departments have a right to an efficient and user-friendly service. Business in particular, needs to know that their planning applications will be dealt with efficiently and predictably. Time delays caused by bureaucracy, lack of skilled staff or overcomplex systems are bad for business and do little good for anyone else. Delays in receiving a planning decision can mean loss of competitiveness for business, something that we simply cannot afford in the modern global economy.

1.7 Whilst some 90% of planning applications are eventually approved, we need to address the flaws and inefficiencies in the system that frustrate business and others seeking to develop land. Development for business, housing, services and infrastructure are all vital to the health of our economy. We need the planning system to ensure that it is delivered in a way that is sympathetic to our environment and that benefits the whole community. But we do need good development: planning must be about accommodating change not just resisting and stifling it.

1.8 We believe in good planning. The present system, by general consent, does not deliver our objectives. We want a system that is capable of reaching decisions that command public confidence and which is seen to be open and fair. A system that underpins our desire to improve productivity by being capable of reaching a proper balance between our desire for economic development and for thriving communities. A system that is clear and comprehensible, that comes to robust decisions in sensible time frames. The proposals in this consultation document are intended to help us produce such a system. It is time for fundamental change.

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