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Tories take RIBA advice on planning reform to combat climate change

A slew of RIBA initiatives aimed at streamlining planning, stimulating energy efficiency and encouraging green travel have been stitched into a new Conservative Party report on tackling climate change.

Set to be published this Thursday (13 September) by the party's influential Quality of Life think-tank and launched at the RIBA headquarters in Portland Place, the report will recommend a return to the fundamental principles of the 1984 Planning Act, including output-based planning regulations.

Other eye-grabbing proposals will include the abolition of building regulations and planning permission for home extensions and reduced VAT on house refurbishment - currently tilted in favour of demolition.

The policy group - led by former environment secretary John Gummer - also supports stamp-duty rebates to increase uptake of energy-efficient homes and using the tax system to promote green air travel and road building.

The RIBA, which gives advice to all the main political parties, will welcome the tough stance on planning reform and the decision to incorporate its ideas into the Quality of Life report.

According to RIBA director of public affairs, Steven Harding, the 1984 Planning Act has been gradually degraded, rendering it bureaucratic and stringent, with less discretion for architects to use 'slightly more creative interpretations' of planning regulations.

Harding said: 'We encouraged the Conservatives to use our ideas and the report shows the extent to which the Quality of Life Policy Group has been to keen to respond.'

by Clive Walker

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