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UK Property Companies Call for Climate Change to be Enshrined in Planning Process

June 19, 2023 | Building Consultancy
Hayley, one of our co-founders is very passionate about building a more sustainable future, so yesterday's open letter to the government from several big property companies certainly caught her eye.

A group of more than 100 UK property companies have called on the government to make planning decisions take account of climate change by law. They argue the existing planning system in England undermines the property sector’s ability to deliver high-quality, sustainable buildings at speed and scale.

They believe the “levelling up and regeneration bill”, currently moving through parliament, offers an opportunity to address the lack of focus on climate change in planning and so, want the bill to be amended to include a new, clear legal duty for planning decisions to explicitly align with the UK’s carbon budget and adaptation goals. The signatories have also called for the system to incorporate various nature restoration targets set out under the Environment Act.

This call for climate change to be enshrined in the process is, I believe, a welcome one. Our sector has a major role to play in reducing emissions and helping society mitigate the effects of rising temperatures. The planning system is a key tool that can used to deliver this.

The current system is often criticised for being slow and inefficient and not fully taking into account the environmental impacts of development. A new legal requirement to more overtly consider climate targets within decisions would certainly help address this and lead to much more sustainable development.

Of course, it’s important to strike a balance between the need to reduce emissions and the need to ensure that developments meet the (even) more immediate needs of communities. And let’s also be careful to make sure any changes to the planning rules don’t simply end up imposing greater costs on our clients investing in these (re)developments. No one should have to pay extra for politically-advantageous but ultimately ineffective, green-washed spin.

The planning system should be used to enable innovation, that transforms buildings ‘through retrofit into fantastic new assets, saving tonnes of embodied carbon in the process’ – a position made by Mace in a separate report that I fully agree with.

All in all, I believe that the benefits of making climate change a central consideration enshrined in planning decisions outweigh the risks. A more ‘sustainable’ planning system could certainly help reduce emissions, improve air quality and protect our natural environment. I believe it would also help to create jobs and boost the economy.

So, I too, stand alongside many of my industry colleagues and urge the government to seize the day and take this opportunity to make the planning system more sustainable and help the UK meet its climate change targets.

After all, we want to meet them for a very good reason.

#commercialpropertymanagement #buildingconsultancy #climatechange#planning #naturerestoration


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