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Rogers attacks government's proposed planning reform again

Richard Rogers has launched another attack on the government’s overhaul of the planning system, arguing that it could result in ‘cities falling into dereliction’

In a letter to the Daily Telegraph, he said the proposed pro-development National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), which is still being drafted but could come into force in the spring, overlooks ‘urban renaissance’ and could result in the erosion of the countryside and green belt.

The Labour peer and figurehead of Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners has previously hit out at the draft NPPF claiming it could see cities like Bristol and Bath join together in ‘one urban sprawl’ (AJ 14.11.11) and branding it ‘fundamentally flawed’.

In his letter to the newspaper earlier this week Rogers said: ‘The National Planning Policy Framework must make explicit its commitment to urban renaissance and to compact, retrofitted cities which provide the only form of sustainable development. This is the only way to protect our cities from falling into dereliction and the countryside from being eroded.’

The letter has been backed by a number of fellow peers including Alan Howarth and former deputy prime minister John Prescott.

It is understood a CLG Select Committee, which has been holding an inquiry to consider the draft NPPF, is due to publish its report on the framework this month (December).

The letter in full:

The countryside and cities are interdependent: they give Britain its physical character and benefit from clear separation – socially, economically and aesthetically. A green belt helps to contain the city and protect the countryside.

Cities are this country’s economic engines and the centre of creativity. People move to cities to find jobs and earn more. Ninety per cent of us live in cities, so the form of our urban settlements must be sustainable. This means compact, polycentric cities.

The movement back to cities is to be encouraged. Compact cities are five times more energy efficient than sprawling cities, because they make the best use of existing infrastructure such as schools and hospitals, encourage walking and the use of public transport.

There is no shortage of brownfield sites

For the past 20 years, there has been a cross-party ambition to invest in our urban assets. The intensification of cities through the use of brownfield (derelict) land first and the retrofitting of existing buildings have led to a renaissance of cities such as Manchester, Liverpool and London. However, the economic downturn has slowed and in some cases reversed progress – a reminder that any urban renaissance is fragile.

There is no shortage of brownfield sites – England has 66,000 hectares which could be used for building – and while there is a need for more well-designed dwellings, there are 750,000 homes lying empty and 22 million homes which should be retrofitted. Some 330,000 dwellings have planning permission but have not been built.

The National Planning Policy Framework must make explicit its commitment to urban renaissance and to compact, retrofitted cities which provide the only form of sustainable development. This is the only way to protect our cities from falling into dereliction and the countryside from being eroded.

Lord Rogers of Riverside

ness Whitaker

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