Probe responds to concerns that planning process no longer fit for purpose

A major review of planning, chaired by former housing and planning minister Nick Raynsford, will seek to identify how the government can reform the English planning system to make it fairer and better resourced to tackle major issues such as housing and climate change.

The Town & Country Planning Association (TCPA) review will respond to widespread concerns that the planning process is no longer fit for purpose. 

Raynsford, the TCPA’s president, said the review has been sparked by widespread concerns that the planning process was no longer capable of shaping the kinds of places which will support the environment and economy and secure the health and wellbeing of communities now and in the future. 

He said: “More than ever we need a planning system which commands the confidence of the public and delivers outcomes of which we can feel proud.

“After too many years of piecemeal changes and tinkering with the system, we need to go back to first principles and seek to develop a practical blueprint for the future of planning in England. That is the objective of this review.”

A formal call for evidence has just been launched, to be followed up by a series of engagement events during the next 18 months to ensure the report is based on the experience of politicians, planning practitioners in the public and private sectors, housing providers, developers, consultants, academics and the public.

Architect and planner Finn Williams, the GLA’s regeneration area manager for north-west London and founder of public sector planning think tank Novus, said: “The status of the planning system has possibly reached its lowest ebb, at the same time as it is needed more than ever. The idea that planning is a barrier to change has become a self-fulfilling prophecy, as piecemeal deregulation has stripped planners of their agency. We need the bold scope of the Raynsford Review to help a new generation find new purpose in planning and recover its vision and ambition.”

Another member of the 11-strong taskforce, Julia Foster, managing partner of David Lock Associates, said: “In the maelstrom of the system in which we currently operate it is easy to lose sight of the immense benefit which good, positive planning can bring. 

“It is a challenge and a privilege to be involved in this review and to have a chance to think about how we might reinvigorate the planning system to help strive for quality of life and a fairer society.”


 Members of the Raynsford Review task force

·         Rt. Hon Nick Raynsford (Chair)

·         Maria Adebowale-Schwarte, Founding Director, Living Space Project

·         Julia Foster, Managing Partner, David Lock Associates

·         Tom Fyans, Interim Chief Executive, Campaign to Protect Rural England

·         Kate Henderson, Chief Executive, TCPA

·         Lord Kerslake, Former Head of the Civil Service, President-Elect, LGA and Chair, Peabody

·         Anna Rose, Immediate Past President, Planning Officers Society and Director of Growth, Economy and Culture, Milton Keynes Council

·         Professor Yvonne Rydin, Professor of Planning, Environment and Public Policy, University College London’s Bartlett School of Planning

·         Chris Shepley CBE MRTPI, Consultant and Former Chief Planning Inspector for England and Wales

·         William Upton, Barrister and Secretary of the Planning and Environment Bar Association (PEBA)

·         Finn Williams, Regeneration Area Manager for North West London, Greater London Authority and Founder of public sector planning think tank Novus