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How do we create a better built environment? New Lords Committee wants to hear your views

The new House of Lords Committee on National Policy for the Built Environment has today issued its call for written evidence, setting out the scope of its inquiry and asking for evidence submissions.

Issues around housing and the built environment are a pressing concern in England with parts of the country facing acute housing shortages and an affordability crisis, while the legacy of poorly planned and designed developments can blight communities.
The Committee will seek to establish what steps can be taken to ensure better planning and design and whether we have the right balance between national policy and local accountability for planning decisions. It will also examine the pressing national need for appropriate homes for a changing population, bearing in mind that decisions taken today will have continuing effects in the years to come.

The Committee are inviting written evidence, to be received by 6 October 2015.

Commenting Baroness O'Cathain, Chairman of the Committee, said:

“We live, travel and work in the built environment and it affects us all in numerous ways, from our health and happiness to the strength of our communities and the prevalence of crime and anti-social behaviour. It is increasingly clear that the design and quality of our places, and therefore our lives, could be improved.

“We need to plan our built environment to meet future demographic, environmental, economic and social challenges. Design and architecture, public and green spaces, the sustainability and resilience of buildings and the provision of vital infrastructure are all essential parts of this process. To achieve this, we need the right priorities, policies and incentives from national Government and the sufficient skills and resources for local government to deliver on an ambitious vision for the future. In this country we have a wonderful heritage of excellent housing in lovely settings; we must ensure that future generations can be proud of the legacy resulting from the decisions and actions of this generation.

“The supply of housing is a long-standing problem; delivery has neither kept up with public need nor politicians' targets. We need to look at new ways of tackling the obstacles that have prevented progress being made and we need an appropriate planning regime to ensure a balance between giving local residents a voice and meeting our urgent needs.

“Improving our built environment is likely to be a key area for Government policy over the next decade and our inquiry gives people the chance to make their voice heard. When it comes to the built environment, all of us have views on the places we live, and I would therefore encourage as many people as possible to send us written evidence before our deadline on 6 October.”

Areas the Committee are inviting evidence on include:

  • Are the decisions that shape England's built environment taken at the right administrative level? What role should national policymakers play in shaping our built environment and how should they interact with local authorities?
  • How well do Government departments work together on built environment policy? Is more integration needed?
  • Does the National Planning Policy Framework provide sufficient guidance for those involved in planning, developing and protecting the built environment? Is a spatial element to national policy also required?
  • Do local authorities have the skills and resources they need to make effective planning decisions?
  • How effectively are communities able to engage with the decisions that shape their built environment? How can any barriers to public engagement be addressed?
  • How could national leadership on design and place-making be enhanced?
  • What role should the Government play in seeking to address current problems of housing supply? What will be the likely effect on housing supply of recent changes proposed for the planning system?
  • Are there any fiscal or financial measures the Government could use to address issues around the supply of land and housing?

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