The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), the professional body for planners, has commissioned a major new research into whether cuts to planning departments are undermining economic recovery across the North West region.
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This is the first time since budget cuts took place in 2010 that any study has been done to look at links between development investment, economic growth, housing delivery and the resourcing of planning.
The research will be carried out by Arup, the global engineering, design, planning and consulting services company. They will be inviting every local planning authority in the region to participate in a survey over the coming weeks. Findings are due to be published at the end of September 2015.
Joanne Harding, Chair of RTPI North West region, said:
“The study is very timely with the new Government announcing plans for a Northern Powerhouse to redress the North-South economic imbalance, and to attract investment into northern cities and towns. Arup will aim to quantify the impact of development pressures on public sector planning resources across the region and the consequences for the regional economy if this is not addressed.”
Trudi Elliot, Chief Executive of the RTPI, said:
“We have made clear that a key priority for the new Government, local councils and others is to channel more resources into the planning system. In particular we will be arguing that investment in planning teams brings about sustainable economic growth. This research will help us build our case and will have wide ranging relevance to the rest of the country.”
There is anecdotal evidence that resources in a number of authorities across the North West are now so limited that vital development, such new homes, jobs and infrastructure, is being hindered. The RTPI is also concerned at the apparent growing imbalance between the planning resources available to the public sector and to the development industry, which is increasingly having a negative impact on the progress of planning applications and the timely delivery of planning policy documents.
The research will seek to identify whether economic recovery across the North West region is being undermined and if so what potential remedies might exist. If successful a similar survey could be used in other parts of the county.
The main research tool will be a detailed and confidential survey of every local authority’s planning function to establish current pressures, trends in staffing and performance levels. Developers, consultants and others involved with planning in the private sector will also be interviewed to give a greater depth of understanding of the issues, and different perspectives on the impact of the cuts on development and investment.