UK Property Industry Calls for Climate Change Considerations in Planning Decisions

More than 100 companies in the UK property industry, including Landsec, Grosvenor Property, and Rockwool, have joined forces to urge Chancellor Rishi Sunak to introduce legislation that mandates planning decisions to take climate change into account. In a letter addressed to the Prime Minister and three Secretaries of State, the group highlights the current shortcomings of the planning system in England, which hinders the property sector’s ability to deliver sustainable homes efficiently and at scale. 

Addressing Climate Change in Planning Decisions:

The executives argue that the “levelling up and regeneration bill,” currently progressing through parliament, provides an opportunity to rectify the lack of emphasis on climate change in planning decisions. While the bill, designed to support the government’s economic rebalancing goals, includes proposed planning reforms, it does not establish a direct link between the planning system and the UK’s environmental ambitions. 

Proposed Amendments to the Bill:

The collective of companies calls for amendments to the bill to incorporate a new, explicit legal duty for planning decisions to align with the UK’s carbon budget—the cumulative carbon emissions limit before the risk of higher temperature rises—and adaptation goals to prepare for the impacts of global warming. Additionally, they emphasize the need for the planning system to integrate nature restoration targets outlined in the Environment Act. 

The Green Building Council's Perspective:

Louise Hutchins, Head of Policy at the UK Green Building Council, an industry group focusing on sustainable construction, organized the letter. Hutchins points out the existing planning system’s failure to integrate the government’s climate commitments. She cites examples of planning restrictions that hinder carbon emission reductions, such as bans on solar panels due to visual concerns or noise limitations on heat pumps. 

A Call for Action:

The letter from industry leaders serves as a wake-up call to the government and politicians to acknowledge the widespread support within the built environment and property industry for greening the planning system. By addressing climate change considerations in planning decisions, the industry aims to overcome current barriers and pave the way for more sustainable and environmentally responsible construction practices. 

With more than 100 prominent companies in the UK property industry backing the call for climate change considerations in planning decisions, the message is clear: the current planning system requires an urgent overhaul to align with the government’s environmental commitments. By amending the “levelling up and regeneration bill” to include explicit legal duties and targets related to carbon emissions and nature restoration, the property sector can contribute to the country’s climate goals while delivering high-quality sustainable homes efficiently and at scale. It is now up to the government and policymakers to respond to this collective plea and take meaningful action towards greening the planning system. 

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