Last edited 18 Aug 2016

Delivering the value of planning

On 16 August 2016, the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) published “Delivering the Value of Planning”, one of a series of policy and research reports setting out the Institute’s thinking on better planning.

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The report was written by Professor David Adams, Michael O'Sullivan, Dr Andy Inch, Professor Malcolm Tait, Professor Craig Watkins and Dr Michael Harris. It was based on research conducted by The University of Glasgow, The University of Sheffield and the RTPI, and followed previous work on the economic value of planning, published in 2014.

The report explains how good planning can deliver sustainable economic growth and housing, and points out why we are not realising the value of planning in practice compared to parts of continental Europe. It suggests that strategic leadership is needed from local authority planners to spur public sector-led development.

A survey of planners working in England, published in the report, revealed:

  • 73% feel changes to the planning system have reduced their ability to deliver.
  • 53 % think that planning reforms have held planners back in ensuring more housing is built.
  • Nearly 70% think they are less able to deliver the benefits of planning compared to 10 years ago.

The report warns that budget cuts and continual changes in planning policy over the last 30 years have stripped public sector planners of the powers and resources, resulting in a system that is ‘…more complicated and more uncertain, with a reduced ability to ensure that development is well-planned and connected to transport and facilities, and a narrower range and number of affordable housing to rent or buy’.

The report calls for:

  • Stronger public sector-led management of land supply.
  • A stronger private sector role in development partnerships.
  • Better resourced planning departments.
  • A more stable planning system that provides greater certainty for developers and communities.
  • Better integration of planning activity with infrastructure provision.

Phil Williams, RTPI President, said, “For too long planning has been relegated to a reactive, bureaucratic function, instead of being able to plan strategically to drive development, jobs and growth… It is absolutely crucial we resource councils’ planning teams properly, so that planners can operate strategically. We want to see closer integration of planning activities with councils’ economic development and devolved areas of responsibilities to guide private sector investment and keep up the momentum for building.”

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