Rebalancing the planning system: Giving communities a meaningful voice


The Planning White Paper, published on 6 August 2020, proposes to radically reform the current English planning system to make it a ‘significantly simpler, faster and more predictable system’. The paper argues that the current system has become too complex, which disincentives wider public participation in planning. It states that there is little incentive for high quality design. The ambition for the proposals is for 300,000 homes to be built annually.

The general focus of the paper is on big ideas, with the detail of the proposals coming later, but the clear thrust is for wholescale reform of the system rather piecemeal changes, which it acknowledges have led to the overly complex current system. The paper proposes ‘a new vision for England’s planning system’ and a new Planning Act and amended National Planning Policy Framework is proposed to deliver it.

We have a series of workshops being prepared to discuss the Government's new Planning White Paper-  we will use these sessions to go beyond the headlines and to discuss the Civic Movement response! You must be a Civic Voice member to participate.

  • Further events will be added daily.

You can view previous Civic Voice events, discussing the planning system below.

If you want to part of a growing movement wanting to shape our towns and cities, we would suggest that you sign up for Civic Voice’s #inconversation events:

  • May 14th: In Conversation with Bob Colenutt were we discussed his new book, The Property Lobby (Watch Part 1 here and Part 2 here)
  • May 20th: In Conversation with Nicholas Boys Smith - Chair of the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission: Covid 19: How will we build better and beautifully? (Watch it back here)
  • June 2nd: In Conversation with Steve Quartermain - Planning in a post covid world. Until March, Steve was the Government's chief planner (Watch it back here)
  • June 4th: In Conversation with Mary Parsons - Chair, Town and Country Planning Association on why we need a Healthy Homes Act! (Watch it back here)
  • July 7th: Webinar - Can Grosvenor's new Community Charter help to rebuild public trust in the planning system? Watch it back here
  • July 8th: In Conversation with Sarah Richards - CEO of The Planning Inspectorate - How the Planning Inspectorate is responding to Covid-19 
  • July 22nd: Webinar with Gavin Parkers - pre-application consultation in the planning system: Register here
  • 23rd September: Wednesday Webinar: Planning White Paper and Zoning with Gavin Parker (Watch the recording here)
  • 30th September: Wednesday Webinar: Housing and the Planning White Paper with Andrew Taylor and Paul Bedwell
  • 5th October: Strategic Planning and the Planning White Paper with Catriona Riddell
  • 7th October: Wednesday Webinar: Neighbourhood Planning and Planning White Paper with Dave Chetwyn
  • 12th October: Planning White Paper Webinar with Christopher Katkowski QC and Nicholas Boys Smith
  • 14th October 11am: Planning White Paper: Perspective from the Home Builders Federation
  • 14th October 1pm: Wednesday Webinar: Planning White Paper and Design with Matthew Carmona

Donate to Civic Voice's latest fundraising campaign: Who has the power in the planning system? Read more here.  

Please make a donation

There is a long road to recovering trust and placing it on new foundations of transparency, honesty and dialogue. A long road to go on to recover public confidence in the planning system. Our work alone will not be a panacea - not enough on its own to create trust. But it is necessary – because we need a national conversation to ask, ‘Why, 50 years after the Skeffington Review are, we still having these discussions? Why do some people think things have gone so badly wrong?

The mood and environment within the built environment are changing. Join your local civic society as we rebalance the planning system to give communities a meaningful voice at every stage of the planing system.

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Let us know what you think we can do to improve planning for everyone – sign up to be kept in touch and contact us at