Trees In Trust

Heritage and land use planning – some useful ideas from the United Kingdom

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Courtesy of Trees In Trust

The contrast between PEI and UK heritage protection and planning practices could not be more stark. Compared to the UK, we are doing no planning whatsoever. We have a lot to learn by looking at how things might be managed more effectively. The most important take-home point is that planning should involve all government departments, all levels of government and all of the land.

Rights and responsibilities

Citizens of the United Kingdom have never had the land rights that we enjoy in Canada - the right to do whatever you like with your own land. For the past 400 years, UK laws have regulated development – sometimes in a draconian manner – and prior to that, the feudal system ensured that power over the land was in the hands of a privileged few (11).

In 1947, the UK Town and Country Planning Act nationalized the right to develop land (10). Concerns at that time were ribbon development; urban sprawl; environmental pollution (10). This law, and other laws, have ensured that even with 15 times the population density of PEI, there are still vast areas of open countryside. Farmland remains as farmland.

Spatial Strategy

The Spatial Strategy, which splits the country into regions (such as North East England), sets out long term targets for housing and economic growth (1). Any new development has to be part of a national plan, and the strategic planning process flows from Parliament, down through regions, counties, districts and towns – and back up again. A Sustainability Appraisal is needed for each development, as is a Strategic Environmental Assessment (10). Jobs, housing, tourism, transportation, energy, environment and farming are all taken into account in the planning process. If a company builds a factory, they have to build houses and infrastructure too.

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