RTPI report calls for greater devolution of planning powers to local areas

Devolving more strategic planning powers away from Whitehall could provide opportunities for the planning process to tackle challenges including the ageing population and climate change, according to a report.

Olympic Park: part of wider Lea Valley regeneration
Olympic Park: part of wider Lea Valley regeneration

The report, Success and Innovation in Creating Public Value Planning, was produced by Newcastle University for the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI). It says that planning and planners can be innovative when given the "opportunity, freedom and resources".

"The problem is that this does not happen as often as it could, or should. Even with the recent championing of localism, England in particular still has one of the most centralised planning systems in the world. In addition, recent policy decisions by the coalition government have resulted in removal of much of the strategic planning capacity from sub-national institutions", it says.

The authors say the report is intended to be seen "as providing more evidence for the greater devolution of planning powers to the lowest possible level".

"By devolving more strategic planning powers away from Whitehall in particular there will also be opportunities for the planning process to be used to tackle wider societal challenges: ageing, economic growth and climate change for example, not just directly through the built environment but indirectly by building in joined-up service delivery".

The report highlights a dozen "exemplars of modern planning", including the redevelopment of the Lea Valley in east London and the TAYplan strategic plan in eastern Scotland.

RTPI president Cath Ranson said: "Planning has a central role to play in shaping communities: from supporting transport and housing issues, to health and environmental challenges. But these things cannot be managed without effective resources and above all, without the Treasury taking a long-term view and recognising that if we want more homes, more infrastructure and stronger growth, we need boots on the ground in our planning departments to make these things a reality."


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