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RTPI: Budget pressures leave councils ‘just about managing’

Words: Laura Edgar
Planning / iStock-166225668

The ability of local authorities to do ‘strategic and proactive’ planning is crucial to fostering the economic growth Britain needs post-Brexit, but a lack of investment has left them ‘just about managing’, said the RTPI.

Years of underinvestment have stripped local planning departments of vital skills and experience.

New research by the institute is set to consider the extent to which local planning authorities dedicate resources and structure to strategic and proactive planning and how this might be strengthened.

Building on previous research, the project will further investigate resourcing, staffing pressures and deliver structures in local planning authorities in the south-east and north-west of England.

The research is supported by the RTPI North West and South East regions.

Trudi Elliott, chief executive at the RTPI, said: “Planning authorities have generally been performing well in the difficult conditions in recent years, with performance data showing planning permissions are up and that more applications were decided within the standard time frame.

“But this masks a much bigger problem – that councils are just about managing to cope and increasingly becoming reactive, at the expense of doing planning at its most creative and strategic. Council planning services are surviving on the goodwill and professional integrity of their officers. We must understand the situation more clearly and that’s why we have initiated this research.”

The RTPI’s previous research on local authority resources in the north-west found that cuts were impacting on proactive planning, local plan development and planning policy development more generally. It can be found on the institute’s website.

The RTPI has launched an invitation to tender for the new piece of research, details of which can be found here.

Image credit / iStock