Regional Futures surveyed 40 representatives from independent organisations and regional, local and national government. It found widespread confusion as to what an RSS is. Only 29 per cent of respondents see them as a region's overall framework.
This uncertainty about the purpose of RSSs threatens spatial planning's ability to deliver sustainable development, the think-tank warned. It also found a failure to integrate planning with other sectors and a lack of related delivery mechanisms.
The study concludes that planners should work more closely with a range of key stakeholders and sectors to ensure that the spatial approach is sustainable.
"An RSS can deliver sustainability but only where the region has a shared vision, understands the strategy's role and encourages participation," the report warns. "If it is business as usual, the chance for sustainable development and improved quality of life could be lost."
Friends of the Earth (FoE) planning co-ordinator Tim Sander said the spatial approach must be seen in a wider context so that one region does not progress at the expense of another.
He added: "When responding to an RSS, FoE will advocate a national spatial framework in which the position and needs of individual regions and the opportunities for their future development must be set."
Spatial Planning in the Regions can be viewed via www.PlanningResource.co.uk.
- See Editorial, page 11.