While the focus of the Planning White Paper is on housing delivery, two areas where reforms are also needed if we are to deliver the cities and developments of the future are logistics and the role of data.
A key missing element is the role of logistics in delivering smart, sustainable and collaborative cities, while also helping to deliver the UK’s climate change objectives.
Logistics developments need to be strategically located to address national and local requirements. Last-mile logistics sites need to be close to where people live and work to allow for energy-efficient same-day or next-day deliveries.
This will become especially relevant as the concept of hyper-localised living and the 15-minute neighbourhood increases in popularity. Logistics and housing are becoming increasingly interconnected.
It is a glaring omission that the Planning While Paper does not mention logistics. This needs to be remedied in planning reforms.
Incorporating the delivery of digital smartness into the planning system is an area that policy has not yet engaged with. This could in part be because the potential of data as a currency to unlock future developments is not yet widely recognised.
The better use of data would provide the opportunity to ensure that good urban design incorporates digital infrastructure, provision for sustainable energy, the promotion of healthy lifestyles and sustainable transport options, as well as supporting a collaborative approach to the use of the built environment.
Intangible benefits using data derived from a development are much less commonly understood. For example, a development might commit to sharing data with the local authority to support traffic or water and waste management.
Without adequate understanding of changing lifestyles, work patterns, climate objectives and the value of data, the planning reforms are likely to fall short.
John Baird is planning partner at Osborne Clarke