We were immensely proud to win the Planning Law Firm of the Year Award a fortnight ago. The award recognised both the contribution that we have made to the new legislative and policy framework that within which the next generation of New Towns will come forward, as well as our practical work on emerging new garden communities.
However, even if the foundations for good progress are in place, with public and private sector communities being proposed there are still several big issues that remain unresolved:
- how do we make sure that proposals which are “best in class” when first proposed and commenced continue to meet those high standards over a decades long build out?
- how do we encourage development and delivery throughout the economic cycle? Any decently sized New Town will face two or three recessions as it evolves;
- how do we make sure that the present and future communities play a full part in the creation of the new place?
The answer to these questions is work in progress and may be different in different places. Whatever the answers we will all need to avoid the temptation to be too prescriptive. Good communities will not emerge from within a legal straitjacket. We need instead to develop a new form of partnership between land owners, developers, public bodies and communities that focuses on collaboration, quality, delivery and participation. If Dentons can continue to contribute, and can help find a sensible and workable approach, that will be a further reward.