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Town planners ‘hampered by budget cuts and policy shifts’

Town planning senorhorst jahnsen flickr
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Local government budget cuts and continual policy changes are limiting planners’ ability to deliver ‘more and better development’, a new report warns

A survey by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), published in its report Delivering the Value of Planning (see pdf summary below), found 73 per cent of planners in England feel changes to the planning system have hindered their ability to deliver ‘good places’.

More than half of respondents (53 per cent) think reforms have impeded them in ensuring more housing is built, while seven in 10 feel less able to deliver the benefits of planning compared with a decade ago.

The RTPI says constant change in England in particular is producing a planning system that is ‘more complicated and more uncertain’, reducing planners’ ability to ensure development is well-planned and connected to transport and other facilities, and producing a ‘narrower range and number’ of affordable homes.

RTPI president Phil Williams 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. We are hearing from our members a clear sense that deep budget cuts and constant changes have hindered their ability to operate strategically and perform a leadership role.

‘Public sector planners’ ability to be proactive is especially important in these uncertain times. It is absolutely crucial we resource councils’ planning teams properly, so that planners can operate strategically.’

The report calls for  better-resourced planning departments and ‘a more stable planning system that provides greater certainty for developers and communities’, better integration of planning activity with infrastructure provision and stronger public sector-led management of land supply. The RTPI also highlights the need to draw on lessons from urban regeneration companies, urban development corporations and enterprise zones, so as to create a stronger private sector role in development partnerships.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Alongside this article are ads for three jobs for graduate planners, two starting at £16,000 p.a. This compares with an average first graduate salary of about £25,000. The third one pays £17,000 but is in Oxford, among the most expensive places to live. So not only do planners have to contend with constant government-inspired upheaval and a continuing lessening of their autonomy, they also have to be able to live, initially at least, on thin air. No wonder developers rule and our towns and cities are an uncoordinated mess.

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