Despite the 2020 Planning White Paper: Planning for the Future telling its very sceptical and expert readership that infrastructure (and affordable housing) needs reform, this is going to take some time as it works through 44,000 responses. Although few are likely to be favourable there will be pulling in different directions that will allow the Secretary of State to plough on.
Meanwhile councils are getting round to revising the schedules for collecting Community Infrastructure Levy and should be carrying out consultations. There is a real danger that the 2021 CIL schedules will seal our fate by making small changes to present infrastructure 'demands' and depriving innovative projects. The following was sent to one council clearly expecting something less radical.
These documents seem to have been prepared
before the Council's declaration of a climate and ecological emergency and the
commitment to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2030? There would also
seem to be an absence of evidence relating to the likely or possible changes to
the use of land and buildings arising from the current pandemic.
A new paper is needed that explores the infrastructure needs of a net zero or negative carbon economy and one that fits with likely post-covid behaviours. The failure to have this as part of the evidence base will result in an SPD that would be funding and lock-in lifestyles that represent the 'old normal', and which is likely to frustrate and not assist the transition to a new net zero and biodiverse environment - a double whammy.
Without pre-judging such research, it is likely to show the emerging importance of local food systems (inc regenerative agriculture and awareness of protecting soils and water), local energy/heat distribution systems, more local working, more active travel, a huge shift from new building to retrofitting (to minimise embodied/construction carbon).
And this makes the mistake of not underling the need to plan comprehensively for the electrification of road transport (ie publicly accessible charge points associated with desirable parking places) and anticipating more elements of automation and Mobility as a Service.
The point about embodied carbon could be reinforced with problems of resources (eg lithium and cobalt) and the real problem of construction carbon being emitted in the short term with the benefits of electrified vehicles being felt in the medium and longer term while the 'early' carbon is still doing its damage.