On 18 January 2021 our joint letter, written together with 18 organisations, was published in the Telegraph:
We urge the Government to think again about its proposals to allow high street businesses to be changed to housing without full planning permission. Based on recent experience, we believe that the proposals, if enacted, will lower housing standards and accessible, natural green infrastructure provision, extinguish local democracy, and end public participation.
Permissions for over one million new homes are already in place but these have not been built out, according to the Local Government Association. There is little case to be made that the current system does not deliver consent for development.
We believe that local people and businesses are best placed to lead the change in town centres – for example, in providing more space for health and wellbeing purposes.
The planning system needs to ensure: local, democratically accountable decisions; the right to have a say over all development decisions; more genuinely affordable homes for local people; environmental protection and recovery for biodiversity; heritage protection and provision of accessible green space and conservation; and strong climate mitigation and adaptation duties.
Miriam Turner and Hugh Knowles
Co-Chief Executives, Friends of the Earth
Director of Policy, Town and Country Planning Association
Chief Executive, CPRE
Executive Director, Civic Voice
Chief Executive, UK Green Building Council
Chief Executive, The Wildlife Trusts
Chief Executive, RSPB
Head of External Affairs, The Woodland Trust
Chief Executive, Chartered Institute for Archaeologists
Chair, Institute of Historic Building Conservation
Executive Director, Council for British Archaeology
Senior Campaigner, SumOfUs
Director of Advocacy and Engagement, The Ramblers
Chief Executive, Bat Conservation Trust
Case Officer, Open Spaces Society
The Mammal Society
Chief Executive Officer, Amphibian and Reptile Conservation
Sustainable Transport Campaigner, Transport for New Homes
Director, Rights Community Action
This letter was first published in the Telegraph.