Integrated planning for net zero

Faced with ambitious net zero targets, local authorities across the UK are grappling with how to deliver on their environmental commitments. Future of London was pleased to partner with Connected Places Catapult (CPC) to support their recent research into Integrated Planning for Net Zero. 

The report provides planners and developers with the tools to embed a net zero approach throughout their work.  

Taking an integrated approach 

When we talk about integrated planning, we mean a more coordinated and data-driven way of planning for places, where the trade-offs and cumulative impacts of proposals, policies and plans can be better predicted, seen and managed.” Connected Places Catapult 

Alongside the pressures the built environment sector is already facing to regenerate parts of our cities and deliver affordable homes, councils also face the challenges of meeting ambitious net zero targets. 

As part of our support for the CPC project, we uncovered best practice to adopting an integrated approach to planning for net zero from local authorities and their partners from across England. 

The best practice case studies we produced helped support CPC’s overall findings and their prototypes. You can read the case studies in full here. For highlights, read on below.

Click to read the full report

It’s all about the data

Some of the best approaches to working across teams and departments to plan in an integrated way make excellent use of data.  

  • Sharing: simply sharing data – such as energy use and capacity – across council teams and between partners, such as energy companies and businesses in the area, allows everyone to be aware of baseline information that progress can be tracked from. This requires partnership building and clearly making the case to partners of the benefits of collecting this information. 
  • Standardising data: putting different data sets into the same scheme (essentially organising it in the same way) so that the information is easy to compare. 
  • Upping evaluation: setting aside a bigger proportion of the budget to evaluation to make sure innovative net zero programmes are helping to build the evidence base for others 

Be open to trade-offs 

Working in a truly integrated way across specialisms such as planning, transport and energy to achieve individual as well as mutual goals is complex. To make it work, all involved need to accept that their will have to be trade-offs, and be willing to negotiate for the benefit of the shared, mutual aim to achieve net zero. A place-based approach where you consider and include all of the various stakeholders in a given area  will take longer, but will set the foundations for meeting net zero targets.  

Build the relationships 

Any integrated approach depends on the working relationships of partners. Encouragingly, our research found that, because of ambitious net zero targets and the political weight behind them, there is an almost universal openness to working collaboratively on net zero. 

Now is a great time to forge these partnerships. We uncovered a few key principles to make these effective. 

  • Planners are key: involve them from the start of any project that’s taking a place-based approach to energy or decarbonisation.
  • Broaden your partnerships: consider how a wider set of stakeholders including community groups, schools and arts organisations can broaden the ownership of decarbonisation plans an improve integrated thinking.
  • Take the time for community engagement: individual households need to be on board with strategies to meet net zero targets but need to be part of the process. 
  • Play to your strengths: particularly in a combined authority structure, allow local councils to focus on delivery and ensure the combined authority offers the resources to take a more strategic view of the whole region.

Look out for posts in the coming weeks illustrating some of our case studies as part of our Integrated Planning for Net Zero series from Greater Manchester and the Midlands. 

For information on Future of London’s Research services, please contact Hannah Gibbs.