Planning service cuts 'could jeopardise Northern Powerhouse'

Cuts to local planning services across the North West could hamper government efforts to build a 'Northern Powerhouse', a Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) study has warned.

North West: planning authorities hit by spending reductions
North West: planning authorities hit by spending reductions

The study, Investing in Delivery: How we can respond to the pressures on local authority planning, carried out by engineering, design and planning company Arup on behalf of the RTPI, found that although the time taken to determine applications is often still good, there are indications that there are increasingly delays in receiving pre-application advice, section 106 agreements and discharge of conditions across the North West.

The report says that a "lack of proactive plan-making due to limited capacity is likely to result in fewer projects coming forward, particularly public-private partnerships, often with a regeneration agenda."

Local planning authorities have responded to these pressures in varying ways, the study says, describing the responses as "either 'striving', 'surviving' or 'struggling'."

Unless this trend is reversed or new ways are found to respond to these challenges, the North West will also be prevented from taking full advantage of the opportunities that will arise from the creation of a Northern Powerhouse, the RTPI said.

Joanne Harding, chair of the North West region of the RTPI, said: "We need greater reinvestment in planning services from sources such as the New Homes Bonus and other related income. This would help put planning services on a more stable footing at a critical time for the North West."

RTPI president Janet Askew said that "further reductions in budgets could exacerbate a cycle of decline in more authorities, and therefore reduce further planners’ ability to help to deliver vital development."

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