This response is made on behalf of the Planning Officers Society (POS). The Society represents the most senior professionals and managers of planning functions in the English Local Authorities. It is rightly styled as the credible voice of public sector planning and sets out to
- be a preferred point of contact for public sector planners where they can access enable public sector planners to work together with Government and partners
- be a strong and united voice for public sector planners supporting and shaping planning policy and practice in local communities
- be a preferred point of contact for public sector planners where they can access learning, support and networking opportunities
- find common ground with other disciplines, organisations and the media to improve the planning process, policy and implementation
- broaden our membership and create a strong cohort of young planners, representative of the ethnic and gender diversity of the UK.
The Society's aim is to make planning more effective in delivering sustainable development to support the well-being of our communities.
The Society response to the Housing Standards Review (HSR) consultation set out below does not offer comments in detail but instead focuses on three key issues that relate to the duties & work of local planning authorities (LPAs) namely :-
- POS welcomes the proposed creation of a clear distinction between the proper roles of planning and the regulation of building performance with standards contained in Building Regulations. However there needs to be recognition that where exceptional & compelling local circumstances exist and can be demonstrated then it may be reasonable & appropriate for LPAs to establish policy and manage development in respect of aspects of building performance. There also needs to be put in place suitable arrangements to minimise uncertainty, disruption & delay in the transition to the new regime.
- POS would not wish to see HSR place any additional burden or add complexity to the planning system, particularly at a time when DCLG is making welcome progress towards its simplification. Lessons from the past need to be learnt and the planning system should not be seen as the default home for the failings of other regulatory regimes. In this regard, the proposed use of the planning system as an interim step towards placing updated standards in building regulations is unacceptable. It reflects more the red tape of government processes than common sense.
- POS would wish to see HSR better coordinated with other relevant initiatives to stimulate new housing development. HSR makes a welcome contribution in this regard but is no silver bullet. However setting HSR within an explicit, clear, consistent & multi-dimensional strategy for addressing this vital need will assist understanding and buy in by all concerned.
POS was represented on HSR Steering Group and trusts that it and other stakeholders will be involved in consideration of the responses to the consultation and in helping direct & drive implementation.
Paul Watson, Vice President Emeritus, Planning Officers Society
18 October 2013