The planning system is critical to achieving a more sustainable built environment for the UK. By controlling the process and setting guidelines for managing and developing buildings, homes and spaces, the UK’s planning system is critical to unlocking the economic potential of net zero.

UKGBC works extensively – both locally and nationally – to promote reform of the planning system to align with our net zero future by putting climate mitigation, resilience, and nature restoration at its heart.  

Why do we focus on planning?

The planning system can enable a more holistic approach to sustainable development – from site location, design, and public consultation right through to construction.

In all four nations of the UK, local planning authorities have obligations to consider and act to promote the UK’s path to net zero. However, in practice many of the associated policies are not fully implemented or de-prioritised.

Mission Zero, the independent review of Net Zero by Chris Skidmore MP in 2023, included reports from hundreds of organisations and individuals that “the planning system is undermining net zero and the economic opportunities that come with it” and recommended wide-ranging reforms to ensure that the system was fully aligned with our net zero future.

What policies do we propose?

UKGBC engages with planning system decision-makers at national, regional and local levels to:

Amend the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill

We must align the planning system with the UK’s climate commitments

Call for a ‘net zero test’ to be introduced

Carbon accounting and standardised assessment will enable decision-makers to clearly measure and prioritise each planning decision’s impact on our net zero pathway

Champion reuse of existing buildings

Disincentivise demolition or new buildings that are unfit for a net zero future

Embrace Biodiversity Net Gain and ambitious nature enhancement policies

While also moving to embed ‘environmental net gain’ as a core concept for planning decisions with climate resilience and social value at its heart

Explore more of our work on planning

2021 Letter to the Prime Minister on Planning

Signed by more than 100 business leaders, calling for the UK’s net zero transition, climate resilience, and nature recovery goals to be put at the heart of planning reforms

Playbooks for Local Authorities

Resources that empower local authorities to use planning policies for sustainability.

National Model Design Code

We worked closely with Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities on planning recommendations.