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New report: Planning common good land use

Tom Kenny

Planning should support land-based enterprises to contribute towards sustainable development. These organisations can deliver common good land use, but they need the planning system to recognise the value of their approach and support them to flourish. This report is an attempt to show how that can be possible and get us closer to planning for the common good.

Innovative land-based enterprises, such as the ones we work with, make great contributions to local economies. They create jobs, train people in land-based skills, produce healthy food, provide recreation opportunities, promote health and wellbeing, and much more. However despite the economic, social, and environmental value they produce, their approach is rarely considered in the planning system.  

The planning system plays a crucial role in the development of land-based social enterprises. By deciding what can and can’t be developed on a site, the planning system defines what activities groups can pursue and what models they can develop. In some ways planning is one of the most open areas of policy, inviting direct citizen participation for example in Neighbourhood Planning. However many people feel especially alienated from it.

This briefing outlines our understanding of the issues and the strategies we might deploy to help address them. Our aim is to help create an environment where the planning system supports these businesses to contribute to common good land use. This means both making the most of current policy and processes, and identifying ways to improve them.  It is primarily focused on the planning system in England, though much of it is relevant UK-wide.

Over the past year, Shared Assets has been speaking to planners, land-based social enterprises, and other experts on the planning system. We have also been analysing existing research and resources. Finally, we hosted a workshop to bring together land-based social entrepreneurs and planning experts to discuss the issues we’d identified and the strategies for tackling them.

This briefing draws on this work, and our wider consultancy work and research,  to introduce the key issues we identified. It also proposes a range of strategies for enabling social enterprises and planning authorities to work together to make land work for everyone. The briefing aims to be useful to land-based social enterprises, planners, and other stakeholders by:

  • Providing simple introductions to the planning system and land-based social enterprises
  • Highlighting the value of supporting land-based social enterprise development
  • Identifying areas where the planning system could be used to support land-based social enterprise to deliver sustainable development
  • Identifying actions various stakeholders can take to improve the situation and highlighting where resources and further work should be directed.

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