Network helps planners meet changing needs

The RTPI's development management network will offer planners a wealth of knowledge and support, reports Rhian Brimble.

The role of the planner is changing. Charged with managing instead of merely controlling development, planners working on the front line of development control departments have to come to terms with a new development approach.

The government continues to consult planners over the changes arising out of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 and there are many new techniques and skills to be learnt. Among some of the changes likely to affect developers and local authority planners daily are those altering the way planning applications are submitted.

A notable change is the information accompanying applications before local authorities are required to validate them. Part of this is the introduction of 1APP, the standard planning application form that aims to streamline the applications process and clarifies, through new regulations, the required information for a planning application to be validly made.

The changes are likely to take effect next year, with two possible categories of information - a core list of information incorporated into the standard planning application form and additional information requirements set by individual authorities. They build on reforms that came into force in August, changing the nature of reserved matters and requiring the submission of design and access statements for some applications.

Planners working in local authorities are increasingly dealing with a variety of assessments submitted by experts. While these often cover areas outside their personal expertise, there is still a need to make necessary judgements about the quality of this information.

The development management network (DMN) will be officially launched on 3 November. It will tackle important issues such as how these reforms will affect planners and all those involved in the process. How do planners acquire the expertise needed to assess the collection of information required to accompany applications? How can skills be further acquired and developed?

Is there adequate training and legal advice available to support planners?

One of the network's aims is to build on the wealth of knowledge and skills in the management of development and to explicitly improve the experience of all stakeholders in the development industry in the public and private sectors.

Now more than ever, planners will need to improve their skills and work hard to learn new ones. The DMN will provide an environment in which members can communicate, network with other colleagues, share information, gain access to good practice and discover pathways to both personal and professional development.

- If you are interested in joining the network or getting involved in this issue, please contact (e-mail)

Rhian Brimble is DMN manager at the RTPI.

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