Young people and renters are being shut out of the planning system

  • People Powered Planning, a new report by think tank Demos, has found that the planning system has been captured by those most opposed to new house-building.
  • The report, funded by Nationwide Building Society, found that almost twice as many homeowners (56%) have engaged with the planning system than renters (29%).
  • Demos are calling for new forms of decision making to be part of the planning system to encourage consensus not conflict, such as citizens’ assemblies.

People Powered Planning, published today [9 September] by Demos, shows that engagement in the planning system is often dominated by those that are less supportive of new homes in their local area.

The report, based on a survey of 1,000 UK adults, found that a minority of homeowners (42%) support new homes, compared to a majority of renters (60%). However, the majority of homeowners (56%) have engaged with the planning system, compared to a minority of renters (29%).

Research shows that there is also a significant generational gap between those who support the building of new homes and those who don’t. Less than half of those aged over 55 (39%) support new homes, compared to most 18-34 year olds (57%), whilst more over 55s (50%) are likely to have engaged in the planning system than young people (46%).

The report also found:

  • 54% of people do not feel at all involved in planning and housing decisions in their local area.
  • 47% of the public support new homes being built in their local area, compared to 27% who oppose it.
  • Consulting residents about a particular housing development could increase support for that development by roughly 10%.

Involving a broader range of people in decisions about house-building could increase support for new homes. The report calls for local planning authorities to trial the use of deliberative decision-making methods, such as citizens’ assemblies, in the local plan making process.

The report also recommends that central government provide ring-fenced emergency funding to local planning authorities to improve their ability to involve people in planning decisions.

Commenting on the findings of the report, Ben Glover, Senior Researcher at Demos and People Powered Planning author said: 

“People power can get more homes built. But the planning system today is too often dominated by those who are opposed to new homes, leading to conflict. New forms of decision making, such as citizens’ assemblies, would bring a wider range of voices to the planning debate and build consensus around house-building decisions.”

Tony Alexander, Nationwide Building Society Commercial Lending Director, has said:

Better engagement with local communities is something developers should embrace not fear. Encouraging people to get involved with the planning process will help identify supporters who may be willing to champion new homes. Tapping into local knowledge can also make new developments better – highlighting traffic problems, supporting good design and identifying important local facilities.“



Media Contact       

Josh Tapper, Communications Officer, Demos

Phone:  020 3878 3955 | 07535748224 (out of hours)

Email: [email protected]

About Demos

Demos is Britain’s leading cross-party think-tank: an independent, educational charity, which produces original and innovative research. 

About Nationwide Building Society

Nationwide Building Society is a British mutual financial institution, the seventh largest cooperative financial institution and the largest building society in the world with over 15 million members.