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Profession ‘sceptical’ over Tory proposals for planning changes

Architects have expressed concern over the Conservative Party’s new planning policy, launched this week, which pledges to allow local people to drive planning decisions if the party gains power at the next election

According to the Conservatives’ ‘Open Source Planning’ green paper, the new framework would mean ‘local people in each neighbourhood […] will be able to specify what kind of development and use of land they want’.

But Peter Stewart, chair of the RIBA’s Planning Group, said: ‘Planning must be a profession and not a hobby… Right now councillors make the decisions, but they are supported by a professional planning service. If you filter it down to the very local level you will need a professional service to support it.’

The Conservatives say they would establish a ‘presumption in favour of sustainable development’ in which ‘individuals have the right to build homes and other local buildings provided that they conform to national environmental, architectural, economic and social standards’.

But Robert Adam, director of Robert Adam Architects, is sceptical about the notion of a ‘national architecture standard’. ‘The idea that removing a top-down bureaucracy will produce a radical simplification is fundamentally wrong.’

Brian Waters, president of the Association of Consultant Architects, said: ‘Although there is a recurring emphasis in the paper regarding design, I fear this means a mixture of prescription, guidelines, local design standards, design by community charrette and new barriers to imaginative development.’

Download ‘Open Source Planning’ as a pdf

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