Public sector given boost

Novice planners will be encouraged to enter and stay in the public sector under a move unveiled in the planning white paper this week.

The government will insist that future recipients of its bursary scheme spend at least two years in the public sector during their first five years of employment after qualifying from accredited postgraduate courses.

The bursary was introduced in 2004-05 to help build long-term capacity following concerns about the shortfall of planners. So far 276 students have completed courses at 17 universities. A further 136 students hold awards this academic year.

The move follows evidence from the Planning Legal Survey that more than four-fifths of planning lawyers recognise the shortage of planners as a constraint on the decision-making speed.

Lovells partner Michael Gallimore, who topped the poll as most respected planning solicitor, maintained that the government is not doing enough to encourage students into the sector. "That plea has fallen on deaf ears," he added.

The survey also revealed resistance among lawyers to dropping the retail needs test. Only 20 per cent were convinced that a planning gain supplement will work.

See Planning Legal Survey, pages 15-31.

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