Neighbourhood plans must not just 'tick boxes'
Neighbourhood consultations on planning decisions have been ‘tokenistic’ and ‘tickbox exercises’, according to a leading think tank and a group of architects.
A report from Respublica and Royal Institute of British Architects has said neighbourhood planning rights should be used by local communities to achieve the development they want. It calls for greater formal recognition of community priorities and requirements in the planning process, which would include social aspirations, environmental values and financial stakes.
Launched last night by Greg Clark, minister for local government, the report said residents should be able to decide their local priorities in a collaborative process enabled by experts such as architects, together with local businesses, developers and the local authority.
The report was critical of past neighbourhood consultation processes, which it describes as ‘tokenistic’ and ‘tickbox exercises’.
It urges the government to consider the potential for a ‘community right to invest in real estate’ and recommends a consultation should be carried out into how local communities can capitalise on future gains of the property development sector.
Phillip Blond, director of Respublica, said: ‘The Localism Act presents some unprecedented opportunities for communities to engage in local activism. In particular, neighbourhood planning can present a turning point for community led development and design. Still, it is only by engaging communities in a genuine, meaningful, collaboration and partnership - rather than a formulaic consultation - that the potential of neighbourhood planning can be fulfilled.’
Harry Rich, chief executive of RIBA, said: ‘The costs of bad planning and design are vast. Meaningful community-led planning helps to achieve better design solutions with greater social and economic value and this will only happen through skilled collaboration between communities and design professionals, such as architects.’