Today is World Town Planning Day and with it a very important opportunity for me to be able to take stock and reflect in this end of year Post Autumn Budget Planning Review on the many areas of positive collaboration I have experienced taking place between stakeholders over the past 24 months which have helped to achieve successful developments for applicants and communities.

As we gear up to closely monitor the impacts of the recent Autumn Budget, there has never been a more important time to keep abreast of planning and political changes in order to fully assess how this may affect your plans for future development; or how it may shape how other people develop land near to your assets and how you can input or object to this.

An Invitation to Collaborate

If you wish to hit the ground running and pro-actively plan ahead for proposed new schemes in 2019, our Paris Smith Planning team would therefore be very happy to have an introductory chat with you before the year closes to see how we may be able to assist you moving forwards.

‘Promoting Excellence in Placemaking’

Despite the many well-known political, economic and site related constraints that professionals in the industry routinely have to overcome to bring developments to fruition, I cannot fail to begin my review by casting my mind back to our attendance at Planning Resource’s 2016 national Planning and Placemaking Awards where my colleagues and I, along with other fellow professionals involved in placemaking schemes shortlisted for their excellence, gathered under one roof in London to showcase and discuss examples of best practice and innovation in planning, placemaking, design and public consultation.

‘Highlighting the Wisdom Behind Public Consultation’

The ceremony was an extremely powerful reminder to us all of how economies can be elevated, and lives lifted, when well-thought through development schemes work with local communities rather than against. To this end public consultation should always be seen as an essential process for developers to help maximise their schemes and reduce problems for them later down the line.

A prime example of this came when I spoke to a local resident in Marlborough one weekend when visiting the town. Upon discovering that I was a Planner by profession, the gentleman was enthused to start a conversation with me that has stayed with me ever since. He looked me in the eye and said to me very sincerely that:

“I objected to a planning application a few years back on 7 material planning grounds. Why? … Because I was so incensed that the developer knocked on my neighbour’s door to explain the scheme, but failed to knock on mine even though the proposal affected me more. If truth be told, had they knocked on my door and had the courtesy to explain to me the need for the development, then I probably would have written in to support the scheme and use my local knowledge of the site to suggest a few improvements to the scheme which would have benefited them. I certainly would not have objected and persuaded many others to object.”

Carefully Considering Challenges at Conferences

Like most years, 2017/2018 has seen a number of very important key note conferences which have taken place across the UK in relation to Housing, Regeneration, Property and Economic Development. Each conference deserves its own special recognition for the role they played in bringing stakeholders and politicians together to promote discussion around the major pressing problems we face with planning and land use in the UK.

My previous articles in 2016 – 2018 covered a number of these issues in more detail – not least the need for more public and private sector collaboration to maximise site opportunities and to provide a welcome helping hand to Local Authorities in helping to improve their planning services; the need for developers to work with local communities from an early stage via well-considered public consultation exercises and, perhaps above all else; the overarching need to provide more homes of the right type and in the right locations.

The Building Research Establishment (BRE) Healthy Places for People Conference was a particularly important gathering for professionals where a strong focus was highlighted by attendees on the worrying lack of homes in the UK that are accessible and suitable to enable us to live independent lives as we grow old. The Conference also shone a vital light on the useful tools and resources available to Local Authorities to help them in their ever increasingly important task of working tirelessly to try and do what they can to make achievable improvements to elderly and disabled residents stuck in existing currently unsuitable homes.

We should not forget that some Conference delegates also highlighted the valuable contributions being made by many professionals who undertake research aimed at trying to better understand the individual attitudes to housing of different age groups. Peoples’ attitudes towards different types of housing schemes are an important research topic in order for developers and policy makers to have a more enriched understanding of what types of housing schemes are required now and in the future and how these can be delivered so that they work for investors as well as the individuals and communities they will be delivered for.

Fighting to Renew Hope Amidst the Abyss of the Housing Crisis

The previous Housing White Paper set a welcome tone in putting politics to one side in identifying that the housing crisis is a complex problem that has affected the country for many years under successive regimes and by stressing that the Paper sought to seek stakeholder consensus on a way forward. For me, the Housing White Paper was an important first step in trying to reach out to all stakeholders to try and achieve consensus on a new positive mind set to housebuilding.

My previous articles have also looked at the devastating impact the housing crisis is continuing to have on the opportunities and health of those stuck in housing unsuitable for their needs. The younger generations have seen childhood dreams of advancement into their own homes dashed by the country’s lack of affordable housing, whilst parents selflessly do all they can to try and assist but, with great sadness, often find the financial barriers too mountainous to overcome like so many families do.

Many of the older generation find themselves similarly stuck in housing unsuitable for their needs, and in inappropriate areas away from facilities that end up isolating them and making them feel lonely – rather than linking them to communities and facilities which would make them feel connected and supported in old age.

The challenges of our housing supply shortage are complex, multi-faceted and pressing. Consequently, stakeholders have a very powerful opportunity and responsibility to innovate, collaborate and find ever new ways in 2019 to try and build a better world for all those affected.

When previously writing a guest author introduction for one major annual housing related conference programme in London I purposefully wrote on one of the opening pages of the programme that:

“I believe this conference marks the precipice of a finite moment of opportunity and responsibility for all stakeholders to leave no stone unturned in working innovatively together to make a defining contribution to helping to lift lives and restore hope and options to each and every group in society currently trapped in housing unsuitable for their needs.”

It is an opportunity that I continue to believe stakeholders and residents need to work harder than ever before to try and grasp because the impactful consequences of inertia are becoming more entrenched, and our lives and our problems are becoming more and more interwoven both as families and as individuals.

Early Collaboration is Key to Successful Planning and Placemaking

I am privileged to be enthused each and every day by the dedication and commitment of my immediate professional colleagues at Paris Smith Planning and the other highly experienced multi disciplinary teams we work collaboratively with on projects, who like other experienced planning firms are working tirelessly with clients to bring forward difficult but positive schemes which lift areas and elevate economies.

With the end of 2018 nearing its conclusion, and with 2019 drawing near, I have no doubt at all that successful planning and placemaking schemes will continue to be heavily dependent on stakeholders working collaboratively and innovatively together in 2019 and procuring their team of planning and other technical experts at a very early stage in their development ideas.

In Paris Smith LLP’s planning team we stand ready to assist stakeholders with all planning and planning legal needs in 2019. If you wish to discuss a property or land idea soon so that you can hit the ground running in 2019; we would be very happy to have an introductory chat before the year closes or book a date in the diary for January.