Tell your MP new housing must be cycle-friendly, not car-dependent

Ask your MP for cycle-friendly streets; photo credit: David Butler/TOWN
After MPs began debating proposed reforms to England’s planning system on Wednesday (8 June 2022), Cycling UK’s policy director Roger Geffen explains how you can help persuade them to legislate for people, planet and pedal power


UPDATE: 21 NOVEMBER 2022: The Commons are now due to have a crunch debate on the Government's planning law reforms (as set out in its Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill) on Monday 30 November. Cycling UK has set up a new campaign action to write to your MP in advance of this debate, asking them to support amendments that would:.

  • Require planning authorities to incorporate walking and cycling infrastructure plans, and rights of way improvement plans, in their local development plans
  • Require public authorities to publish a plan to achieve a ‘general health and well-being objective’, which planning authorities have to take into account when making planning decisions
  • Ensure planning policies set by the government and decisions taken by planning authorities are consistent with the net zero target and carbon budgets set under the Climate Change Act

Please note also that, since the article below was written, Michael Gove MP has returned to his earlier role as Communities Secretary (replacing Simon Clarke MP).


The planning system in England has a long tradition of allowing developers to build housing, shopping malls, business parks and other developments on cheap land, which is poorly served by public transport. That makes it hard to get to and from these new developments without using a car. Our friends at Transport for New Homes have done excellent work documenting the problem.

When the former Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick MP consulted on his proposed planning reforms last year, they attracted huge amounts of criticism from across the political spectrum, including from red-wall and shire-county Conservative MPs alike. They are widely seen to have contributed to the Conservatives’ defeat in the recent Chesham and Amersham by-election.

They were also criticised by housing, environmental and sustainable transport charities, including Cycling UK. These groups have now formed the Better Planning Coalition, led by CPRE, the countryside charity.

Michael Gove MP, Jenrick’s successor, has sought to detoxify the issue, dropping some of the most controversial aspects, and cloaking the rest in a wider Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill.

However, the Better Planning Coalition is concerned that the Bill, as drafted, still risks missing vital opportunities to create a planning system that provides genuinely affordable housing as well as protecting the climate, nature, and our future prosperity.

Write to your MP

Cycling UK is therefore calling on members and supporters to write to your MP – you can find their email address here.

If you want to keep it short and sweet, we suggest using the following text:

*  *  *

Dear <Name> MP

The Government’s Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, which is now before Parliament, presents a once in a generation opportunity to ensure the planning system is fit for people, nature and the climate.

As a supporter of the national charity Cycling UK, I urge you to write to Communities Secretary Simon Clarke MP, calling for action to ensure that future housing developments:

  • Are located and designed to support cycling and other forms of active and sustainable travel, so as to reduce car-dependence and its associated congestion, pollution and greenhouse gas emissions; and
  • Include good access to nature, both in and around the development, so people are able to enjoy the health and other benefits of cycling, for day-to-day travel and for healthy recreation.

For more information, please see the briefings on the Bill from Cycling UK and from the Better Planning Coalition, of which Cycling UK is a member. I hope this information is useful and look forward to your response.

Yours sincerely

<Your Name>

*  *  *

However, if you are also able to include some text about any specific recent or planned developments in your area, which exemplify the problem or indeed the potential solutions, so much the better. MPs are much more likely to read and respond to individualised letters that relate to their constituencies.

Please forward any responses you receive to us.