back to blog


ftwork’s response to the Planning White Paper – October 2020


In the White Paper proposals, there are frequent references to planning’s contribution to economic growth, recovery and renewal; and there are 3 separate Proposals relating to the delivery of environmental sustainability. Yet it is striking that there are no specific proposals aimed at achieving social sustainability and no consideration of social infrastructure, social heritage, or social value.

The pandemic has demonstrated the potential of local populations to be proactive, to be advocates and social entrepreneurs – ie to have a focal role in shaping where they live and work. This social capital is an extremely valuable resource, to be supported and sustained; it is the glue that can bring and hold communities together. However the coronavirus has also exposed the stark inequalities that exist within communities and that must now be addressed. Planning reform has the means to create inclusive and thriving communities, through an equality of opportunity and access, by arriving at a shared vision which will deliver quality public spaces, housing and social infrastructure.

Rather than just highlighting omissions within the proposals, we principally focus here on key social principles that need to be included if planning reforms are to fulfil the stated ambitions and to achieve social sustainability. We suggest that, as with the environmental objectives, the social objectives require a clear set of proposals.

It is people that bring life to places. Planning should be about providing for and responding to their needs, yet instead it has become a speculative process driven by economic expediency. ftwork supports the idea of a national design code to establish and uphold principles of good design and placemaking, but our concern is that in the drive for simplification the messy issue of real people, their needs and their wishes, will be side-lined.

Read ftwork’s full response to the Planning White Paper consultation below:


submit your own question or comment

previous thought


Can we maintain the social resilience and innovation prompted by Covid19?

read more

next thought


How can we make young people feel part of their built environment?

read more