Civic Voice - talking civic sense


Immediate publication

May 2013

Civic Voice urges Minister to adopt a “smart” approach to the planning system

Responding to the comments from the Planning Minister, Nick Boles MP, Paula Ridley, Chair of Civic Voice said:

“We have been clear all along that the Government's approach to sustainable development must balance economic, environmental and social issues more equally in order for communities to be able to secure the development that meet their needs. Quite simply, the Minister should allow the changes to the National Planning Policy Framework to take effect before suggesting other concepts”.

"Developers will always chase low density, greenfield development regardless of the environmental and social consequences because that is what makes them the most profit. A strong planning system based on a smart growth approach is needed to ensure top-quality homes, built to the highest standards are located in the right places, with the support of the community. The Planning system is not stopping house building; it is an inability of people to access affordable mortgages from the banking sector that is the real issue”.

The Planning Minister made his comments "Building houses will create more ‘human happiness’ than preserving fields" in an interview with the Daily Mail

Paula Ridley finished by saying “The Minister needs to focus on keeping our cities alive, and preserve our countryside through smart growth. Good quality, high density housing schemes on brownfield sites should be the priority.”

Civic Voice believes the planning system has untapped potential to engage people in becoming more actively involved in their community as well as managing land use change and development for the widest public good. It combines vision with necessary regulation and plays a critical role in protecting and improving the quality of local places. That is why we are recommending that Government try and find more ways to harness local support – in addition to neighbourhood planning – by funding research into where communities and developers have worked successfully together.

Civic Voice is again calling for:


Civic Voice is the national charity for the civic movement. We work to make the places where everyone lives more attractive, enjoyable and distinctive and to promote civic pride. We speak up for civic societies and local communities across England. We believe everyone should live somewhere they can be proud of and we know how people feel about places because we feel the same way. Civic societies are the most numerous participants in the planning system. Since its launch in April 2010 Civic Voice has been joined by over 290 civic societies with 75,000 members. Further information is available at including how to join Civic Voice (£10 individuals) and contact details for local civic societies.


Ian Harvey, 0151 708 9920, 07877096968 or;