Civic Voice launches manifesto and calls for an ABCD Planning System with communities at the heart

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 18th November 2019


Civic Voice – the national charity for the civic movement – is today calling for all political parties to make a firm manifesto commitment: “To give communities a meaningful voice at every stage of the planning system” and in doing so, “create an Accessible, Balanced, Collaborative and Democratic Planning System, which ensures we move from talking to the ‘already engaged’ to having ‘everyone engaged’”.

The call was made as Civic Voice launched its manifesto for the General Election 2019, emphasising an urgent need for a rebalancing of power within the planning system.
Speaking at the launch of the manifesto, Joan Humble, Chair of Civic Voice said: “Recent research undertaken by Grosvenor Britain & Ireland found that the public has a significant distrust of the planning process. Just 2% of the public trust developers and only

7% trust local authorities when it comes to planning for large-scale development. We can either ignore this research and carry on as we are and continue to face the same challenges in building the homes the nation needs, or we can accept that the system is not working for local people and do something about it.

Our call is simple. We are calling for an Accessible, Balanced and Collaborative Planning System to ensure everyone has a meaningful voice to shape where they live.

Humble added: “We need to move away from ‘consultations’ to ‘conversations’ and open the planning system up to ‘collaboration and participation’. If we give citizens a genuine meaningful voice in the planning process, we can increase confidence and trust in the decisions being taken. Whether right or wrong, people believe that the decisions impacting their local area are not made locally, but by outside interests, who, once the development has finished, move on. By calling for a meaningful right to participate at every stage of the planning system, we can change this. With the use of new planning technology, there is no reason why this cannot happen.”

Alongside calling for an “ABC Planning System” Civic Voice is also calling for the next Government to:

• Introduce a ‘pre-application community consultation stage’ and a ‘limited community right of appeal’ into the planning system.
• Strengthen Statements of Community Involvement (SCIs) so that the statements set out, in accessible Plain English, how the local authority and developers will be expected to meaningfully engage with local communities on planning.
• Introduce an ‘Office for Public Participation’ to oversee standards and consistency in public consultations. For major developments it would be an independent ‘honest broker’ to carry out the pre-application consultation with the local community, removing any perceived conflict of interest for the developer.
• Utilise planning technology in decision making so that we go from talking to the ‘already engaged’ to having ‘everyone engaged’ in shaping our towns, cities and villages.

Ian Harvey, Director of Civic Voice, finished by saying: “We have a planning system that may not be completely broken, but it certainly needs re-balancing and fixing to work better for communities. Doing so will ensure we build a modern planning system with communities at the heart. With these changes, we believe we can build the homes that we need and ensure that everyone in England can say, ‘we care about where we live’.”

1. Civic Voice works to make the places where everyone lives more attractive, enjoyable and distinctive. We speak up for civic societies and local communities across England. Civic societies are the most numerous participants in the planning system. More information on Civic Voice’s manifesto campaign is available on our website here

Ian Harvey, 07877096968 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)