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The All-Party Parliamentary Group on London's Planning and Built Environment, for which The London Society acts as the secretariat, published its 'Suburban Taskforce' report yesterday (5 September) at a meeting in the Palace of Westminster.

The ‘Suburban Taskforce’ was established in 2020 to try to understand what ‘suburban’ really means in modern Britain. Formed by a cross-party group of politicians who came together with experts from a range of backgrounds, the aim was to shine a light on the suburbs and identify and secure the clear, long-term and properly resourced policies needed to support thriving, sustainable and inclusive suburban areas. 

The Taskforce found England’s suburbs to be in desperate need of attention, with far greater diversity than is commonly acknowledged and considerable pressures to change; caused in part by increasing tensions in areas being asked to accommodate large amounts of new development and raising concerns around potential ‘tipping points’.

You can download the report here.

The Taskforce’s key recommendations are that:

  • Consideration should be given to a new spectrum model for understanding the suburbs and used by those in research, practice and policy. 
  • Consideration is given to the opportunities which exist for an evolution in the nature of local employment as a result of changes to working practices during the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Consideration is given to the use of permitted development rights as a means of delivering new homes and cautions against the use and extension of these.
  • Consideration is given to the potential ‘tipping points’ which exist in our suburban communities and ways that these might be managed.
  • Consideration is given to the scope to increase public engagement in the planning process at the plan-making and decision-taking stages, and to open and incorporate built environment debates into wider public discussions about the future of an area, not least through digital means.
  • Consideration is given to the scope to introduce national policy guidance on the key principles for handling small scale applications in suburban locations.
  • Research is undertaken to explore possible policy solutions to address the challenges identified.

And some coverage of the report's findings can be found on the links below: