Westminster Energy, Environment & Transport Forum

Since lockdown, we have been organising our full programme of conferences online. We will continue online until further notice, to ensure we play our part in helping our employees and delegates to remain safe during this time. We are pleased that so many key stakeholders, policymakers and other interested parties - both old friends and new delegates - are taking up the opportunity to discuss public policy issues and network at our impartial seminars. New events are coming on to our conference programme all the time. So there are plenty of opportunities for you to join us if you haven’t already, from wherever you are. For booking-related queries, or information on speaking, please email us at info@forumsupport.co.uk or contact us using one of the following numbers: +44 (0)7538736244 / +44 (0)7503591880 / +44 (0)7951044809.
For delegates already booked on, we will send you the online joining instructions (including links, event numbers and passwords) five working days before your conference. If you cannot find these in your inbox please email delegate.relations@forumsupport.co.uk

The future for planning policy in England

Morning, Thursday, 25th March 2021

***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***

This conference is bringing together stakeholders with policymakers to discuss the future for the planning system in the context of the Planning For The Future White Paper - and latest thinking around levelling up English regions and supporting a development-led economic recovery.

The agenda:

  • Modernising the planning system and latest thinking on the scope of planning reform in England
  • Examining the Planning for the Future White Paper and how to address key challenges across the planning system
    • Effective streamlining of the planning process - simplification, accelerating consultation stages, and retaining safety for project approvals
    • Turning ambitions for house building into action - supporting design innovation, targeted delivery in urban environments, and maintaining and enhancing build quality
    • Providing certainty for stakeholders - legal practicalities for reforming planning systems and frameworks
    • Next steps for land use and management - balancing the needs of developers with natural conservation goals
  • Linking planning reforms with wider policy objectives around levelling up and developing infrastructure
  • Latest thinking on the Environment Bill, environmental net gain across the planning process, and delivering sustainable housing
  • A planning system that supports local projects and development across the country - designing local plans, bolstering supply chains, and meeting the needs of communities and businesses
  • Government priorities for planning policy reform, and the scope for creating a development-led economic recovery in England

Relevant developments:

  • economic policy - as the Government seeks to move forward with an economic recovery plan:
    • driven by infrastructure and project delivery across England including through the new £4 billion Levelling Up Fund that will support invest in local infrastructure
    • with reform to the planning system a key factor in supporting this objective
  • the Planning for the Future White Paper - outlining the scope of government’s intention for reforming the planning process in England, with key policy priorities, including:
    • accelerating the consultation and approvals process
    • simplifying the frameworks around planning rules and information
    • increasing the supply of land for housing development
    • underpinning net gain as a necessity for new developments
  • the National Infrastructure Strategy - and its outline for developing a holistic and long-term infrastructure plan, with specific attention to planning policy paid in the context of:
    • enabling quicker approvals of major projects
    • revising the methodology for assessing social and economic benefits when considering projects
    • supporting investor confidence
  • the Government’s Project Speed initiative:
    • which sought to bring forward public infrastructure plans and investment through reduced planning barriers
    • with the aim of accelerating economic recovery through streamlined planning frameworks 
  • the National Design Guide from MHCLG - and National Model Design Code, to support well-designed places that work to create character, nurture a sense of community, and are sustainable
  • the Environment Bill - with provisions to ensure biodiversity net gain in new housing developments
  • the Social Housing White Paper - including plans to bring forward a new Framework of Green Infrastructure Standards to help local authorities, developers and communities to improve green infrastructure, including greenspace provision

Key areas for discussion:

  • securing benefits of streamlining - practicalities of getting projects off the ground more quickly by simplifying information requirements and approvals frameworks, and speeding plan-making stages
  • scaling up housing delivery while maintaining build quality:
    • how to ensure that shorter consultation periods remain effective, and support cost reductions and affordable housing
    • priorities for policy and stakeholder action to squeeze poor quality build design out of the system
  • meeting policy reform concerns - strategies for retaining community input and involvement as well as necessary red tape, and ensuring that stakeholders are held to account across the process
  • reform to land use and management and overcoming sustainability challenges:
    • options for safeguards so that accelerated approvals do not weaken green belt protections and that brownfield sites are fully utilised
    • how best to sustainably implement the Government’s growth and renewal metrics for planning approvals
  • environmental protection across the planning process:
    • ambitions the Environment Bill around achieving biodiversity net-gain and how the needs of natural conservation and planning stakeholders can be balanced
    • next steps for sustainable and low-carbon home construction, following the Future Homes Standard consultation
  • tackling barriers to major projects - looking at options for:
    • easing evaluation and approvals requirements on a national level
    • providing quicker tools for consent with local decision-makers
    • scaling up cooperation with delivery partners to address national infrastructure deficits
  • addressing biodiversity risks and ensuring reform translates into net gain:
    • identifying key development impacts on the environment
    • the scope of new responsibilities and obligations for developers
    • opportunities for creating nature-based improvements in conjunction with scheme delivery
  • sustainable housing rollout - latest thinking on energy efficiency by design, standards setting, and engaging stakeholders across the development process
  • supporting project development at a local level - accelerating local plan design and delivery, and best practice and key steps in local economic recovery and supporting local stakeholders:
    • creating more certain and secure approval commitments, increasing support for design best practice, and how best to identify area-specific needs and improvements
    • involving local business and supply chains - local authority engagement and project funding, supporting direct relationships with supply chains, and fostering local jobs and skills creation
    • delivering the levelling up agenda across England - public/private joint working, widening shovel-ready project consents, and shifting key decision-making powers to regional and local groups

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders. Places have been reserved by officials from BEIS; Defra; the DHSC; the Government Legal Department; the ICCAN; the MHCLG; The Scottish Government Planning Division; The Planning Inspectorate and the Welsh Government.

Overall, we expect further speakers and other delegates to be an informed group including Members of both Houses of Parliament, senior government officials involved in this area of public policy, together with representatives from the construction sector, local authorities and community groups, infrastructure (including digital infrastructure) along with their advisors and partners, lawyers and investment specialists, advocacy and environmental bodies, academics and commentators, and others concerned with the issues discussed - together with representatives of the national and specialist media.

This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference

Keynote Speaker

Dr Michael Bingham

Interim Chief Planner, MHCLG


Patrick Clarke

Director, Masterplanning Lead, UK & Ireland, AECOM

Mike Derbyshire

Partner, Head of Planning, Bidwells

Richard Griffiths

Partner, Pinsent Masons

Richard Blyth

Head, Policy Practice and Research, Royal Town Planning Institute

Paul Miner

Head, Land Use and Planning, Campaign to Protect Rural England

Guy Battle

CEO, Social Value Portal