“Planning for the Future” – reponse to UK Government’s White Paper
The government’s White Paper ‘Planning for the Future’ sets out its proposals
for a sweeping revision of the planning system in England. It is intended to speed up
the decision-making process so that, primarily, affordable housing can be delivered
where it is needed. In itself this is a laudable aim, but the proposals raise serious
concerns regarding the future of our archaeological heritage.
The document puts forward a simplified system allocating all land in England
to three categories: ‘Growth’, ‘Renewal’ and ‘Protected’. In two of these, ‘Growth’
and ‘Renewal’, development of a pre-agreed type would have automatic or assumed
permission. Current processes for archaeological evaluation at pre-determination
state would be bypassed, and there is no indication of what, if any, provisions there
will be for undertaking archaeological assessment, or for investigation and/or
mitigation. Indeed, there is no recognition that archaeological assets may even exist
in these areas.
As a matter of urgency those of us who care about our archaeological
heritage need to make our very real concerns known to the government and we can
do this by writing to our MPs.
CBA has published a blog on their website which includes a links to the joint
statement on the White Paper which they have issued with CIfA, and to the their
toolkit which gives useful advice on how to write to your MP. You can find these
In addition, CBA has made available a list of key concerns which you may find
1. The system must recognise that heritage assets with archaeological
interest are just as likely to occur in areas earmarked for growth as they are in
protected areas and that many assets are unrecorded, undesignated, or remain
undiscovered. Within growth and renewal areas the proposals must have provisions
in place for appropriate desk-based assessment of heritage assets and, where
necessary, a field evaluation which can inform development management.
2. There are dangers in a market driven system, which places commercial
judgements far ahead of conservation issues. .
3. There is a need to respect the purpose of planning (perhaps calling for a
statutory purpose of planning as in Scotland):
(1) The purpose of planning is to manage the development and use of land
in the long term public interest. (b) achieves the national outcomes (within the
meaning of Part 1 of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015), is to be
considered as being in the long term public interest.
4. Positive placemaking must be enabled, and must include proper
consideration of the historic environment.
5. There is a need to ensure that in the rush to provide developers with speed
and certainty we do not curtail the system’s ability to undertake proper evaluation of
6. The Government CAN make this work, but ONLY if they show willingness
to invest in the up-front costs and develop new systems that strengthen planning.
If you have any queries please do get in touch with Christine Went, our Heritage &
Conservation Officer at email@example.com