Planning systems are used as an important tool to achieve sustainable development. The most important thing about the planning system since 1947 is that it is about the public interest (Department for Communities and Local Government, 2015). Planners recognize that planning must be done by elected leaders and not by individuals such as planners in order to achieve their own ambitions. It is because decisions on planning programmes affect people, their environment and their economy. This is the bedrock of democracy. Therefore, representatives should be given the right to participate and listen to decisions that affect the environment. Additionally, over the years, a variety of ample policy tools for different problems have been supplied in Britain.
However, in recent years, the government tends to streamline the planning system to make it more accessible to the public. Planning policy in the UK has changed significantly since 2010, most notably by streamlining the planning framework to become the NPPF (National Planning Policy Framework) and by issuing ‘the Localism Act’ (London’s Global University). This article will analyze the reform of British planning policy since 2010 and focus on NPPF and the practice of NP (Neighbourhood planning) and its influence since its implementation.
2.0 The reform of the planning system in England
There have been some changes to the planning system since the previous Government came to power in 2010. The system principles that dominate the planning system remain unchanged and the components of the system remain unchanged. However, the direction of the system and its support has changed.
2.1 National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF，2012)
In 2012, the government radically overhauled Britain’s planning policy, condensing more than 1″,000 pages of policy into one brief document (Woodland Trust). This is called the national planning policy framework (NPPF). NPPF is an important planning consideration in all decisions, appeals and policy-making processes. All decisions must be made in accordance with the development plan, and the NPPF is part of the development plan. The core of NPPF is “presumption in favour of sustainable development”. This is the context in which the following context-based strategies must be considered. Community forests are welcome in the NPPF（Woodland Trust）.
Although NPPF is an important reference document, it does not work in practice. There are still some problems with the implementation of NPPF. According to CPRE（Campaign to Protect Rural England, 2017）, they do not believe that “NPPF” provides an effective framework for achieving sustainable development. The 2005 sustainable development strategy for the UK (NPPF) did not play a role or influence other decisions in the planning process. NPPF generally focuses less on how to integrate it with society or the environment and more on achieving short-term economic growth (Miner & CPRE, 2017).
Things have not improved since the NPPF was announced in 2012. The government says the NPPF is fully committed to implementing the UN sustainable development goals domestically and internationally (Miner & CPRE, 2017). In particular, cities and human settlements are inclusive, secure, resilient and sustainable. The 2005 strategy is no longer achievable and government departments are no longer responsible for monitoring progress (Miner & CPRE, 2017). The NPPF does not explicitly mention the SDGS (the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals) in its guidance or statement of consultation. Therefore, to address these situations, in 2018, the new NPPF was revised and published under the redefined sustainable development goals.
2.2 National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF，2018)
Due to a series of problems with the NPPF in 2012, the NPPF was revised in 2018. The revised NPPF has been described as a “new planning rulebook” that gives planners, developers and councils “a comprehensive approach to building more homes where people want to live more quickly” and is described as “an important part of the government’s strategy to fix the broken housing market”( Smith, 2018). Notably, the new NPPF places greater emphasis on neighbourhood planning – which is at the heart of the regionalist agenda (Smith, 2018）. Because neighbourhood planning is still a powerful tool for shaping the local environment.
The new NPPF has made some limited changes to the way development plans are formulated, with particular emphasis on the importance of strategic planning and greater emphasis on cooperation between the authorities of neighbouring countries (Smith, 2018). However, because of the problem of housing supply, the basic premise remains the same as in the previous version of the NPPF, that the development plan should be designed to meet the region’s objectively assessed housing needs.
In order to provide more certainty on the amount of housing to be provided throughout the country, the council must take into account factors such as the affordability of existing housing, the need for housing and its form, and new standardized methods of providing more housing where it is most needed (Smith, 2018). Planning authorities will focus on the actual number of homes delivered by these targets rather than the number of homes provided in the plan. In November 2018, for example, every local authority in England will publish the results of Housing Delivery Tests (Smith, 2018). If the local planning authority is unable to guarantee the supply of land for deliverable housing for five years, or the housing delivery test indicates that its housing delivery in the past three years has been far below the housing demand, then the planning application for housing is determined and the policy in its local plan will be considered outdated. Decisions are also made easier by the introduction of housing delivery testing, which in part means a presumption in favour of sustainability.
For the developers, they are required to make contributions in accordance with the feasibility limits agreed under section 106 of the 1990 trade agreement. Feasibility assessments are assigned to be carried out according to standardized methods, and the content of these assessments will influence decision makers’ consideration of the case (Smith, 2018). Therefore, when acquiring land and preparing planning applications, developers need to calculate the expected contribution of development according to the latest planning policy.
One obvious change is that when considering housing applications, authorities should consider providing policies or guidance on acceptable living standards, such as daylight and sunlight-related factors, which would otherwise have a bad influence on the effective use of the site (Smith, 2018).
Green belt policy also strengthened, according to new NPPF, if planning authorities will not be able to prove that has “full” studied all another reasonable plan, to meet the needs of its sure, so will not be able to release the development of green land for development, including the right to land in brown, insufficient use of land, optimizing the development density and meet the demand for housing authorities in the neighborhood (Smith, 2018). This effectively introduces a quasi-sequential test to prove the existence of a “special case” to justify the change in the boundary of the green belt (Smith, 2018).
In terms of providing quality housing, the government aims for 300″,000 new homes a year by the mid-2020s. However, because NPPF policies are more restrictive, local authorities have less flexibility in developing new housing in their areas. Tighter controls on design standards, greenbelt boundaries, developer contributions and feasibility assessments, and little incentive for developers (Smith, 2018).
The new NPPF underscores the importance of good housing design and highlights the importance of engaging with local authorities and local communities. But it could even argue that apps that demonstrate early engagement with the local community should be more beneficial than those that don’t (Smith, 2018). It’s just not clear how this will play out in practice at the moment because, in the early stages of engagement, locals rarely accept the design of new development.
2.3 Regional Plans
There was a significant change in Regional Plans. The “regional strategy” was first proposed by law in 2004. These strategies define the need for new developments throughout the country. It also includes housing targets for different areas. And the opportunities for local communities to influence strategy are relatively limited. So this centrally driven approach to development is seen as bureaucratic and undemocratic because instead of helping to build new houses, it makes people feel affected and unable to benefit (Department for Communities and Local Government, 2011). The new conservative/Liberal Democrat government announced the withdrawal of these resolutions on 6 July 2010. London still has a regional plan, but others have been pulled back（(Department for Communities and Local Government, 2011).
2.4 The Localism Act
The Localism Act as an important product of neoliberalism. Neoliberalism has had a profound impact on the planning of state activities and other neighbourhoods over the past three decades. Conservative governments in Britain in the 1980s used liberalism as a basis for trying to regulate and control all aspects of planning (Allmendinger, 2009). Britain has long had a centralised and localism system of power. But as far as planning is concerned, there is bureaucracy, but it is impossible to ask the British government to improve people’s lives by imposing decisions and setting goals for inspection (Emma, 2013). Such planning structures do not provide the flexibility to reflect local conditions or innovations in order to deliver services more efficiently and at a lower cost. This makes people have no feeling of participating and goes against planning requirements. So the government began to think about handing over power to its localities. They are trying to cut central targets in parliament, reduce the burden of inspections and cut red tape. They try to encourage councils, local charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to do things for themselves (Emma, 2013).
“Localism Act” was enacted to address these problems. He set out a series of measures to achieve a substantial and lasting shift in power from the central government to the local people. The objectives of this policy include new freedoms and flexibility of local government; New rights and powers of communities and individuals; The reforms undertaken to make the planning system more democratic were more effective in ensuring that decisions on housing were made locally (Emma, 2013).
The proliferation of neoliberalism has had a profound impact on the current governance model, including the regionalism law. Neoliberalism is based on the neoliberal critique of a centralized state. In the discussion, neoliberalism refers to a governance model that is conducive to market dominance and a governance model that reduces the state in a broad sense (Emma, 2013). The transition to neoliberal government usually required an overall programme of “decentralization, localization and transfer of policy between jurisdictions” (Peck & Tickell 2002; Emma, 2013). In response to neoliberalism, localism has become a means of achieving and promoting participatory governance and democratic practices, and has positioned localism as “a key venue for social organization and civic participation.” However, there is a problem that the 2013 change to the growth and infrastructure act violates regionalist principles. The coalition government proposes to transfer power to the whole country. The change includes addressing the argument that planning systems hinder economic growth and development, allowing direct application to local planning bureaus’ “failed” major schemes (Heather & Sheppard, 2016). At the same time, this structure also bypasses the local democratic decision-making process and completely violates the auxiliary principles related to the regionalism agenda (Heather & Sheppard, 2016). It’s hard for local residents to get involved. Instead of the so-called subsidiarity principle, we actually see a parallel subsidiarity and centralization process.
2.5 Neighbourhood plan
The neighbourhood project is a prime example. It was in 2012 that the localism act came up with the neighbourhood plan. These documents were drafted by local communities and carry legal weight in the decision-making process.
The government believes that local communities have the right to determine their own communities. They should not be told what to do, they need to be given the opportunity to influence the future of where they live (Department for Communities and Local Government, 2011). Community planning encourages community members, including residents, employees and businesses, to express their views through their local parish council or neighbourhood BBS. Like where the new house will be and what the store will look like. These plans can be very simple and concise or go into more in-depth detail. Local communities will need to use community planning to grant full or outline planning permission. Permits can be issued to areas that most want to see new housing and businesses, making development easier and faster (Department for Communities and Local Government, 2011).
If the neighbourhood development plan or order is in line with the national planning policy, the broader regional strategic vision formulated by the local authorities, other legal requirements are met (Department for Communities and Local Government, 2011). With local votes, if the plan is approved by a majority of voters, the local authorities will put it into effect. In addition, local planning authorities need to provide technical advice and support to communities in formulating their recommendations (Department for Communities and Local Government, 2011). In general, the governments will provide the community with a source of funds for help and consultation (Department for Communities and Local Government, 2011). they will help people use this opportunity to influence decisions that have a significant impact on their lives.
In London, more than 100 community groups are considering land use on their own and face the complexities of district planning. Many of these voluntary groups are now designated “neighbourhood forums” under the 2011 localism act. BBS was set up for community members to review and agree on planning policies with the aim of designing a “neighbourhood plan” for their part of the capital, which will have statutory effect when finally adopted (burton 2015; Pycock, 2016). Moreover, as of November 2015, there were 143 neighbourhood plans “enacted” and put into effect after local referendums (DCLG 2015; Pycock, 2016), and the effects of localism laws have been felt across England. In London, a new land-use plan is being developed. These planning groups are creating a new element of local governance that is formative, dynamic and human. But the legal right of local people to shape and plan the future of their neighbourhood is the most radical of a series of devolution measures laid down in the 2011 decree. According to Greg Clark, the minister for national devolution, the bill has the potential to “achieve its purpose” (Pycock, 2016). Under the bill, the community’s ” right to bid” “and” “right to challenge” “enables the community to bid to take over a service or building, including a bar in a successful practice. However, due to the complexity of the process of achieving localism, the government funded a Quango to provide guidance and technical support, consultants and grants up to 14”,000 per year (my community, 2016; Pycock, 2016). Moreover, the approval of the neighbourhood plan creates opportunities for the local development community. Any major development projects completed in the area will be funded in the form of 25% (Pycock, 2016). There are several stages in the practice of neighbourhood planning. Local groups in London must be designated by the planning authority as “neighbourhood forums”, with a properly defined area. It turns out that the results of the survey show that the border agreement and the actual forums designation procedure have always been prone to disputes. Some councils are said to have deliberately withheld approval of neighbourhood forums designations because they were unwilling to decentralise their planning powers. Tony Burton, founder of citizen voices and convener of the London regional planning group network, has a list of blocking strategies adopted by the London parliament (Burton, 2015; Pycock, 2016). Once the program BBS is specified, a plan needs to be made. Multiple partnerships, continuous engagement, and distinctly different engagement. In addition to the technical details of the planning such as land allocation, “vision planning” and generating policy options, the following evidence is provided: In addition to the issues of land allocation and policy generation, it is argued that the process of planning policy is repetitive, iterative, and iterative. Neighbourhood planning policies, as a platform for achieving statutory localism, need to be negotiated. But with so many different local groups working independently in British regionalism, progress is bound to be slow as a tortoise. For example, a plan must meet all such conditions and be subject to independent inspection, a process that requires the scale required for broad, sustainable and deep participation (Pycock, 2016). Under this system, because formal democratic legitimization is provided by the demands of the final plan, local voters are usually put to a referendum. In the UK, according to the survey, 143 local referendums involve more than 250″,000 votes when making other development decisions. Usually, it takes years to develop a plan.
This article mainly discusses the formation process of the NPPF and locialism Act and their impact. Over the past few years, we have witnessed an overall change in the planning system. The regional level has been stripped to introduce a new planning scale at the smallest “neighbourhood” level. And extensive professional central guidance reduced to a single National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). At the same time, local government planning departments have huge resources. However, these changes are still difficult to solve the problem. As far as the NP is concerned, there are inequalities in society, such as differences in areas, within cities, employment, housing and health that are largely ignored. Then, while environmental sustainability is taken into account, the lack of strategic direction and sufficient detail in practice means there is little chance of progress towards important policy objectives. There are not enough details to guide local government planning and development decisions, resulting in uncertainty, delays and the cost of public funds. However, planning is an ongoing process. If the planner and the government analyze the ends brought by methods and then continuously improve the planning system, the existing problems will always be solved.