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06/03/2017

'Vital’ to integrate infrastructure planning with land use, report says

Words: Laura Edgar
Land use

A long-term strategic approach to infrastructure provision that can cope with future uncertainties, such as climate change, must include consideration of land use, a new report has recommended.

Landlines: why we need a strategic approach to land, by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), notes that England’s land is under an “increasing multitude of pressures”, including the drive for economic growth.

The CPRE says the current, fragmentary approach to land use, with multiple organisations responsible for different issues, is failing to address the problems cause be often conflicting demands, such as environment degradation, rising costs and harm to health and well-being.

Landlines features a number of interested parties arguing for greater national coordination on land use.

Andrew Wescott, head of policy and public affairs at the Institution of Civil Engineers, says it is “vital” that infrastructure planning is integrated with land use.

Land use must, Wescott states, be a core part of a strategic approach to infrastructure provision that can cope with population, technology and climate changes.

Lord Deben, the chair of the UK Committee on Climate Change, suggests that a government department should be focused on land use.

“There’s not hope of sensible land use while planning is imprisoned within the department for communities and local government, agriculture in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, infrastructure in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and long-term transport planning in the Department for Transport,” he says.

A Department for Land is needed, to bring the strategic elements of all these departments together, he believes.

Belinda Gordon, head of government and rural affairs at the CPRE, says: “Amidst the rush towards global competition and unrestrained economic growth, a national approach to how we use the land is more important than ever. We are making big decisions in isolation, and not thinking about what kind of wider pressures individual developments bring – to the land, the climate, the economy and our health and wellbeing.”

Gordon notes that a national land use strategy would bring treasury and infrastructure officials on board with environmentalists, replacing “piecemeal erosion of the countryside with exciting projects and community trust”.

Corinne Swaine FRTPI, OBE, an Arup fellow, cites research by the University of Manchester for the RTPI’s Map for England project, which “exposed the range of existing government policies and programmes that have either an explicit or implicit spatial dimension, leading the RTPI to advocate much greater spatial awareness in government decision-making”.

For Swaine, a key challenge is to get integrated land-use thinking into national infrastructure planning, and a spatial dimension into the evolving national industrial strategy.

Richard Blyth, RTPI head of policy, said: “The report’s reference to our Map for England shows how useful a comprehensive, layered map or single source of data incorporating different government activity would be. Bringing together various data sets from across government would allow a joined-up approach to planning, infrastructure and services. A resource, like a Map for England, would enable policymakers and the public to make better judgments about how individual policy proposals interact with and affect development of the country as a whole.”

Landlines can be found on the CPRE website.

Image credit | Shutterstock

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