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Report: Planning system fails to support industrial strategy

Words: Laura Edgar
Logistics / iStock-526545290

The government’s industrial strategy aims to address the country’s long-term economic challenges, but the strategy could be stifled by the planning system.

In its report Industrial Revolution, planning consultancy Turley considers the quality of employment land evidence used by local authorities to allocate for business and make their local plans.

Looking at 10 per cent of local authorities in England, the research focuses on logistics. It suggests that there are major limitations and inconsistencies in the quality of evidence used for plan-making. This leads to the misallocation of land in relation to business needs and potentially impacts on the competiveness of places in attracting investment.

According to the study, the needs of businesses are not fully or consistently understood across local authorities, which can affect the quality of policies and land allocations in local plans, hampering a business’s ability to grow.

Additionally, Turley says employment land evidence is currently based on a lack of documented and meaningful industry engagement.

These lead to barriers to investment in sectors such as logistics. There is a shortage of land in London and the West Midlands that exists because the market outpaces planning policy and because the planning system is failing to respond to rapid change, adds the report. Further to this, some land allocated for industrial purposes is no longer attractive to the market and would be better released for other uses.

Turley is now calling for more pro-business planning system to support the industrial strategy. This should include a review by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) of the Planning Practice Guidance (PPG), which advises on how to allocate land for business use.

Richard Laming, senior director at Turley, said: “Our research highlights that the planning system is a blunt tool in responding to evolving business needs. Much could be done to improve the quality of the evidence that is used to inform strategic thinking on the volume, type and location of land that businesses require. Action is required now to ensure UK businesses are fully supported by the planning system as the country prepares to exit the EU and implement its modern industrial strategy.”

Speaking to The Planner about the industrial strategy, the RTPI’s head of policy Richard Blyth said the institute’s key concerns are “how different sectors of the economy pull together, how the and housing is tied into this and how places lead on industrial policy”.

The RTPI’s policy paper Fostering Growth (pdf) includes 10 recommendations on how planning can support economic growth, including implementing customer-friendly approaches.

Read more:

Fostering Growth (pdf) on the RTPI website.

RTPI points to missing links in industrial strategy

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