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Politicians optimistic about future of planning

Words: Laura Edgar

Attendees at a Labour Party Conference fringe event have heard that planning is the “art of the possible”, despite current problems such as the impact of cuts, changes to the system and a lack of public confidence in planning.

Speakers at the event talked about a range of issues holding back the profession, including the lack of fee flexibility and the way national policies are created in isolation with poor consultation.

However, they also discussed the role planning could play in making a better, fairer society.

The panel included Clive Betts, chair of the Communities and Local Government Select Committee and MP for Sheffield South East; Roberta Blackman-Woods, MP for the City of Durham; Alice Bennett, mayoral lead for heritage and Liverpool councillor for Woolton; Sarah Chilcott, managing director, Planning Portal and Stephen Wilkinson, vice president, RTPI.

Hosted by former planner turned MP for Dulwich and West Norwood, Helen Hayes, the politicians on the panel agreed that more needed to be done to empower planners, who “have the skills necessary to deliver vibrant communities and prosperous places across the UK”.

They discussed how they thought the planning system requires better resourcing and a more positive approach to the profession.

Blackman Woods noted that the negativity about the profession might deter young people from entering it, worsening the skills crisis.

Wilkinson told delegates that "planning is the art of the possible”.

He continued: "It was good to hear politicians share their vision for what planning could achieve. We've got a lot of work ahead of us if we are to deliver a fairer, more prosperous future but we can't do it without their support and shared vision. Our party conference event brought together a range of stakeholders to debate how we champion the case for positive planning."

Planning Portal sponsored the fringe event.