The Local Government Minister Brandon Lewis has made an announcement
Revoking “Equality and diversity in planning”
Under the last Administration’s flawed rules, a sense of unfairness was embedded in the planning system. Unauthorised developments created tensions between travellers and the settled population, whilst some community groups seemingly were given favoured treatment. That approach has harmed community cohesion. We want to redress the balance and put fairness back into local communities.
I appreciate that there is ongoing concern, as reflected by some Hon Members recently proposing a Private Member’s Bill on this issue.
I can announce today that the Government is cancelling the last Administration’s practice guidance “Diversity and Equality in Planning” which was issued by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister in 2005.
This guidance is outdated, excessive in length (at 186 pages), and sends unhelpful signals about the planning process. For example, the document:
- Fails to strike the correct balance between the spatial impact of a planning proposal and the background of the applicant in considering a planning application.
- Encourages monitoring of local residents’ private lives – such as through intrusive lifestyle/diversity surveys.
- Promotes the excessive use of Equality Impact Assessments, which are an expensive and bureaucratic burden on the public sector.
- Tells councils to translate into foreign language, which undermines integration by discouraging people from learning English, weakens community cohesion and a common British identity, and wastes taxpayers’ money.
As part of our wider consolidation of practice guidance, we do not intend to replace it.
The National Planning Policy Framework makes clear that councils should plan to provide wide choice of high quality homes based on the needs of their local community. Councils should simply use their common sense in light of prevailing legislation, planning policy and material considerations.
I hope this will send a positive message about treating all members of the community with respect and with due process, and that this Government is restoring a proper sense of fairness to the planning system.