Farrell review calls for 'proactive' planning system

Out-Law News | 01 Apr 2014 | 2:16 pm | 1 min. read

Government bodies and industry representatives should work together to bring about a "revolution in support of proactive planning in this country", a built environment review (199-page / 13MB PDF) by architect Sir Terry Farrell has recommended.

The review, which was commissioned by culture minister Ed Vaizey, sets out 60 recommendations for the future of architecture and the built environment, including a reformed planning system where the future needs of towns and cities are "anticipated rather than responded to".

"For the sustainability of our villages, towns and cities we have to reduce our reliance on reactive planning which is characterised by the current system of development control," the review said.

It said that, by planning proactively like other countries do, issues like the national housing shortage or susceptibility to flooding could be anticipated and addressed before they reach crisis levels.

The review called on the government to establish a 'PLACE Leadership Council' with ministerial as well as public and private sector representation to provide a strategy for improving design quality within the everyday built environment and a culture change in favour of proactive planning.

The review recommended that local planning authorities could set out a plan for attracting and retaining the best individuals for planning departments, including the use of planning fees to recruit more design-literate planners.

It also suggested that the government should appoint a chief architect "at the highest level" which would be similar to the chief planner and chief construction adviser and "connect up government departments and maintain high standards and consistency of approach".

"The issues covered by this Review are not of academic or specialist interest," said Farrell in a statement. "They are relevant to some of the most pressing and important issues of our time like the shortage and affordability of housing; the urgent need to reduce our carbon emissions and the flooding crisis that recently afflicted so much of the country. Through proactive, rather than reactive, planning we can tackle these problems."

“We have some of the best architects in the world in this country yet it is hard to see how this translates into the everyday experience in our towns and cities. Industry leaders and built environment professionals should connect to the everyday much more and focus on making the ordinary better, not just one-off exceptional projects," Farrell said.

“I hope this Review will be the catalyst for change and the start of a big conversation about our built environment, making it a major public issue like health and food. There are few things that are more important to us than the places we live in. I look forward to continuing to work with government and industry to translate this vision into a reality,” he added. 

Vaizey said he hoped the review could be the "start of a dialogue within the industry about how the sector can build on its success and recognise the importance of architecture and design in all aspects of our lives”.