Professor Gavin Parker gives evidence at House of Lords committee
7 November 2018
Research by Professor Gavin Parker from Real Estate and Planning at Henley Business School is being used to inform work by the House of Lords Rural Economy Select Committee.
Professor Parker was invited to give evidence to the committee at Westminster due to his research into Neighbourhood Planning – the flagship policy of the government’s 2011 Localism Act - and his wider research and experience of planning in rural areas.
He told the committee he believes the Neighbourhood Planning policy has ‘severely under-performed’. He said:
“I think there’s a lot of potential with Neighbourhood Planning, but I don’t think we’ve got it right. I think there are lots of issues there, lots of burdens involved in putting together a formal Neighbourhood Plan.”
Issues identified in Professor Parker’s research into Neighbourhood Planning have included a lack of consistency in local authority support, uncertainty over what constitutes a robust evidence base for the plans, and concerns over social inclusion. Professor Parker continued:
“We could organise funding and support in such a way to enable better quality understanding of issues, which then leads into better quality plans which are more likely to gain traction in the system.
“The emphasis on the number of plans being produced and also the overriding emphasis on housing has meant that Neighbourhood Planning has severely under-performed its potential. I think if we started off from a wider perspective, thinking about the needs and the issues of, in this case, rural areas and rural communities, and then worked forward from that, we would have far better quality plans.”
The Rural Economy Committee is working to put together a report for government containing recommendations on what can be done to improve the rural economy, with a particular focus on the planning system.
Earlier this year the Real Estate and Planning department hosted the first Neighbourhood Planning HIVE event, attended by people actively engaged in the Neighbourhood Planning process.
A book to inform and enable communities looking at Neighbourhood Planning is due to be published early next year, written by Gavin and his colleagues.
Visit the Rural Economy Committee site to watch a recording of the session (from approx. 10.54).
Read Professor Parker’s Leading Insights: Communities and the new rural economy – a role for Neighbourhood Planning?