Nick Bowles, the Planning Minister seems determined to speed up the growth of house building by not allowing the process to be limited by the present planning laws.


Civic Voice, the national charity for the civic movement has responded to his views which are stated below.

The full interview in which Nick Bowles states his views can be seen at:

Civic Voice's response:

  “We have been clear all along that the Government's approach to sustainable development must balance economic, environmental and social issues more equally in order for communities to be able to secure the development that meet their needs. Quite simply, the Minister should allow the changes to the National Planning Policy Framework to take effect before suggesting other concepts”.

"Developers will always chase low density, greenfield development regardless of the environmental and social consequences because that is what makes them the most profit. A strong planning system based on a smart growth approach is needed to ensure top-quality homes, built to the highest standards are located in the right places, with the support of the community. The Planning system is not stopping house building; it is an inability of people to access affordable mortgages from the banking sector that is the real issue.”

“The Minister needs to focus on keeping our cities alive, and preserve our countryside through smart growth. Good quality, high density housing schemes on brownfield sites should be the priority.”

Civic Voice believes the planning system has untapped potential to engage people in becoming more actively involved in their community as well as managing land use change and development for the widest public good. It combines vision with necessary regulation and plays a critical role in protecting and improving the quality of local places. That is why we are recommending that Government try and find more ways to harness local support – in addition to neighbourhood planning – by funding research into where communities and developers have worked successfully together.

Civic Voice is again calling for:

    Smart growth – avoiding the economic deadweight from urban sprawl due to higher infrastructure and travel costs by planning for high quality, well designed development in towns and cities which respects their history and protects open space
    Strong local voices –ensuring planning policy that respects community views in deciding what is important and protects everyday places
    An end to “planner bashing” – recognition at the highest levels of Government that far from being a barrier to enterprise - 80% of planning applications are granted and less than 1% take more than a year to decide - the planning system is key to informed discussion about the kind of society we want to live in and the places we inhabit