Simon Halliwell
Simon Halliwell, director of Paddock Johnson

PODCAST | Will planning reform lead to beautiful development?

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The Government’s proposed changes to the much-maligned planning system aim to slash red tape, speed up housing delivery and prioritise the creation of beautiful places for people to live. Whether the reforms will ultimately be as radical as Whitehall claims remains to be seen. 

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Steve Grimster

In this episode, we hear how Port Sunlight in Wirral, a much admired mixed-use neighbourhood with 900 listed buildings that was created to house workers of the Lever Brothers soap factory in the 19th century, would likely not progress beyond the pre-application stage today.

Could the Government’s proposed reforms result in a move away from cookie-cutter housing developments and a shift towards the creation of more beautiful neighbourhoods in the Port Sunlight vein? 

Simon Halliwell, director of Paddock Johnson, an architecture practice with its headquarters in Port Sunlight, agrees the planning system is in need of reform, but is doubtful that the changes proposed by the Government will bring about real change. 

Along with Steve Grimster, director of Cheshire-based planning consultancy Grimster Planning, Halliwell spoke to Place North West reporter Dan Whelan about what the reforms could mean for making the planning system fit-for-purpose and for breaking the dominance of volume housebuilders to create more beautiful developments. 

Questions asked in this episode: 

  • Are the reforms as radical as the Government claims? 
  • Will under-funded councils be able to adapt to changes in the system? 
  • Why does the country need more places like Port Sunlight?  
  • What makes a beautiful development?

Main takeaways: 

  • If the reforms are to work, collaboration between all parties will be key 
  • Deciding certain aspects of a project during the pre-application stage, which should carry legislative weight, will allow architects to focus more on the design and functionality of a development later on
  • Implementing permissions in principle for large-scale development through the use of design codes would drastically speed up the planning process 
  • The subjective nature of design causes delays in the planning process that the reforms will struggle to address 

This episode was produced in association with Paddock Johnson.

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