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Building in the right places is critical, Tory fringe event told

Words: Laura Edgar

Planning plays a ‘critical’ role in creating places where homes are well connected to jobs, transport and infrastructure, speakers at an RTPI and Planning Portal fringe event at the Conservative Party Conference agreed.

The panel – Waheed Nazir, director at Birmingham City Council; Craig Alsbury, senior director at Bilfinger GVA; Sarah Chilcott, managing director at Planning Portal and Phil Williams, RTPI president – also agreed about planning’s ability to deliver a coordinated approach to growth and place creation.

Referencing the RTPI’s Location Of Development report, Alsbury said it needs to be established that homes are built in the right places, close to jobs and supported by infrastructure such as schools, hospitals and transport.

Bob Neill MP, who chaired the 'A country that works for everyone – planning’s role', and Nazir agreed that planning could be used to drive growth and prosperity. Nazir said: “We don’t want to end up with loads of housing but nowhere for people to work.”

Williams said: “It’s clear housing and planning are high up the political agenda at this year’s Conservative Party Conference. The major announcements by the government on Monday followed by our standing-room-only fringe event demonstrate strong political will to deliver the jobs, housing and places this country needs.”

But the panel cautioned that there are challenges, with resourcing at local authorities top of the list.

When Neill asked the 120 audience members how many of them lived in an area with an up-to-date local plan, few raised their hands. Many cited resources as a barrier.

Planning Portal sponsored the event.