Thank you for inviting me to speak to Smart Transport in my first week as Secretary of Planning, Housing and Future Generations.
The newly-named department is in recognition of that fact that the way we use and develop land now will have impacts for years to come. Land is a finite commodity and we want to ensure we plan to leave the world in a better state than we found it for the sake of generations to follow. We are taking planning back to its fundamentals, to obtain the most efficient and sustainable use of our precious resources.
We also recognise that the deregulation and constant undermining of the planning system over the past few years has not delivered on many fronts and has had many negative unintended consequences.
The UK has some of the worst urban sprawl in Europe, with ugly monofunctional developments such as executive housing estates, retail and office parks mushrooming on the edge of settlements or out of town, Tarmacking over green fields or recreational spaces. This, in turn, has created more car-dependency, and, as a survey of new housing by Transport for New Homes pointed out, “the sheer amount of area given over to road access, driveways and parking was astonishing”.