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Labour Planning Commission submission

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has submitted a response to the Labour Party Planning Commission's call for evidence.

The Labour Party established its Planning Commission to help shape the Party's planning policy ahead of the next general election. The RIBA has been participating as one of the Commissioners. 

The ambition of the Planning Commission is to put placemaking and local communities at the heart of the planning agenda, revive neighbourhoods and town centres in decline, and address the urgent need for better infrastructure. 

The RIBA has made a number of recommendations to the Commission, including:


  1. Local authority planning departments need to be properly resourced, with planning departments enabled to employ qualified architects as in-house design expertise.
  2. The duty to refuse applications on the grounds of poor design should be supported by government, including at appeal.
  3. The Nationally Described Space Standard is incorporated into Building Regulations to provide a fair offer across the country, give developers the certainty they need and to allow any additional cost to come out of land values.
  4. M4(2) Category 2 Accessible and Adaptable Dwellings should become the minimum accessibility standard for all new housing.

Plan Making

  1. The government should develop a National Spatial Strategy to create a framework which aligns infrastructure and economic development with housing growth.
  2. The government should strike new devolution deals until there is a solution in place for every area of the country. It should also initiate a path to deepening devolution deals - to ensure powers can be at least as extensive as those held by the Greater London Authority.

Building Regulations

  1. The government should adopt net whole-life zero carbon as the regulatory standard for all new buildings and refurbishments in the UK by January 2030.
  2. The government should promote the use of post-occupancy evaluations and setting of performance based metrics to ensure buildings are built to the energy efficiency measures they were designed with. This should also include an assessment of social sustainability to determine the long term social value of development.
  3. The government should incorporate new baseline prescriptive requirements into Approved Document B and related British Standards:
  • a requirement for sprinklers/automatic fire suppression systems in all new and converted residential buildings (as already required in Wales) and in all existing residential buildings above 18m from ground level as ‘consequential improvements’ where a building is subject to 'material alterations'. Sprinklers should not be used as means to compensate other key fire safety measures.
  • in all new multiple occupancy residential buildings, a requirement for at least two stairways, offering alternative means of escape, where the top floor is more than 11m above ground level or the top floor is more than three storeys above the ground level storey (as required for commercial buildings).
  • a requirement for centrally addressable fire alarm systems in all new and converted multi-occupancy residential buildings and in all existing multi-occupancy residential buildings above 18m from ground level as ‘consequential improvements’ where a building is subject to 'material alterations'.


  1. Ensure local knowledge is integrated into option consideration and analysis.
  2. Set clear objectives and identify evaluation criteria for projects before commencing construction.
  3. The government should include compulsory requirements for design quality in technical documents, such as the Design Manual for Roads and Bridges.

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