RTPI calls on planners to come forward with ideas on coronavirus response

The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) has invited planners to come forward with suggestions on how the planning system can operate during the coronavirus outbreak.

RTPI president Sue Manns (pic: RTPI)
RTPI president Sue Manns (pic: RTPI)

In a statement issued by the institute, its president, Sue Manns, said it was "vitally important" planners support government initiatives such as the relaxation of rules around retail deliveries as the country continues to cope with the impact of the virus.

Manns also called on planners "to identify what more the government could be doing to help the planning sector" address the crisis.

The RTPI statement said that it is in regular contact with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and the body urged planners to "come forward with their views on what more the government could be doing so this can be passed on".

It said that questions that have so far arisen include:

  • Will it be possible to hold inquiries, hearings and examinations by digital means rather than postponing them?
  • Is there an argument for increased delegated powers given that many planning committee meetings are being postponed?
  • How will plans and documents be scanned/loaded onto systems to enable case officers to consider them?
  • How will neighbour letters be sent out? Who should put them up? Who will see them?
  • Should there be further legislation around mobile masts to improve the quality of digital communications as more people work from home?
  • How will elderly people who are self-isolating be given access to local plan consultations?
  • What should be done to strengthen cybersecurity if fraudsters take advantage of the situation?
  • Should there be further measures around parking at hospitals to be relaxed for the period of the emergency?
  • Should standard three-year limits for reserved matters be extended?

Manns said: "As ever, in this time of crisis, planners stand ready to support the government in tackling the impact of coronavirus in any way we can, including relaxing regulations or enforcement where it is helpful to do so in order that our communities have access to vital supplies.

"We will also be looking at how we can best keep building and development going and how to ensure that after this crisis has receded we minimise any backlog of pending permissions and continue to explore the opportunities afforded by digital technology to aid us in doing this.

"The RTPI will be writing to ministers in the coming weeks to make helpful suggestions."

Suggestions should be submitted to publicaffairs@rtpi.org.uk by 5pm on Wednesday 25 March 2020.

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