Government ministers certainly don’t think so: the draft National Planning Policy Framework is designed to remove many of their current responsibilities.
So why are Brighton’s planners inspiring? Brighton and Hove Council has just become the first in England to adopt planning advice to encourage food growing in new developments. The advice covers all sorts of useful stuff – issues of water supply and composting, technical issues about contaminated land and disease risks, and more – but its real value is that it gives a host of reasons why developers should include growing spaces, rather than reasons why they shouldn’t.
This kind of positive planning should help to turn urban growing into something everyone does, rather than something remarkable. It sends a signal to planning departments elsewhere that their role is to encourage good things, not just to stop bad things.
The advice was the result of a collaboration between the council’s planning department and Food Matters, a local social enterprise. Their policy director, Clare Devereux, said: ‘We are proud to be the first city to adopt policy which encourages developers to include food growing in their designs.’
Let’s hope others follow suit soon.