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By LGCnet political correspondent Robert Hedley...
By LGCnet political correspondent Robert Hedley

Crime prevention was - and must remain - a key planning objective, junior minister Tony McNulty told MPs. Already, it could be a relevant factor when considering planning applications and it must be considered when councils reviewed their development plans.

Even so, Mr McNulty added: 'We will review and update the existing government guidance, Planning Out Crime, and produce a good practice guide to accompany the guidance. The guidance will set out what works in designing out crime and will be relevant to both local planning authorities and the police. It will also be practicable and robust in a wide range of circumstance'.

Replying to the adjournment debate, the minister from the ODPM said it seemed to him that architects in the 1960s and 1970s were awarded prizes 'for designing crime in rather than designing crime out'.

The debate was initiated by David Wright, Labour MP for Telford, a former local authority urban regeneration officer. He said good urban design could reduce crime and promote the creation of sustainable communities where people wanted to live, work, shop and enjoy their leisure time.

He suggested four areas for action. First, there must be more cross-departmental working at national level - especially between the ODPM and the Home Office. Secondly, communities should be encouraged to work together to resolve problems of crime and antisocial behaviour.

'I would particularly like to compliment the Urban Design Alliance, which is supported by the ODPM, for its work on the Placecheck initiative. That initiative encourages local people to identify problems in their own neighbourhoods and develop practical solutions', he added.

Mr Wright continued: 'Thirdly, local authorities should vigorously apply crime prevention criteria when evaluating planning applications. That is a material consideration. The planning system must be used to generate attractive and easily-managed environments.

'There is no excuse for local authorities as the planning guidance is already in place. Circular 5/94, PPG 1, PPG 6 and PPG 12 all contain guidance on addressing crime through the planning system'.

Local community safety partnerships were beginning to move these issues up the council agenda in some areas and the police scheme, 'Secured by Design' was extremely important.

Finally, he said, developers must ensure that designing out crime is at the centre of their work. 'It is not a fringe activity, the principles of which are discarded once projects are on site', commented Mr Wright.

Hansard 21 Oct: Column 94-104

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