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RTPI holds events at Tory and Labour party conferences

Words: Laura Edgar
Delivering housing / iStock-166225668

Politicians and stakeholders have heard how planning is delivering homes, ‘levelling the housing playing field’, and creating great places to live at the RTPI’s fringe events at the Conservative and Labour party conferences.


Chair: Helen Hayes MP


  • Clive Betts MP, chair, Communities and Local Government Committee
  • Melanie Onn MP, shadow housing minister
  • Councillor Julie Cattell MRTPI (Rtd), chair of the planning committee, Brighton & Hove City Council
  • Liz Hobden MRTPI, head of planning (city development and regeneration), Brighton & Hove City Council
  • Sarah Chilcott, managing director, Planning Portal
  • John Acres MRTPI, vice-president, RTPI

The RTPI and Planning Portal Labour Party Conference fringe event saw politicians agree that planning has a role to play in “levelling the housing field”.

Clive Betts MP cautioned that fiddling around the edges of the planning system does not address such a challenge.

For Betts, a range of measures are needed to deliver more housing, including helping smaller developers to enter the housing market.

Julie Cattell MRTPI and Liz Hobden MRTPI identified a number of other causes of low housing delivery numbers – the supply of land, small social housing sector, duty to cooperate challenges, and local politics.

But the speakers seemed optimistic that through strategic planning – allowing councils to proactively plan and better approaches to viability – the UK could better address the housing crisis.

Sarah Chilcott said consistent policymaking is needed, as well as suggesting incentivising affordable housing by fast-tracking applications that comply with affordable housing policies rather than challenging them.



Chair: John Howell MP


  • Melanie Leech, chief executive, British Property Federation
  • Councillor Janet Clowes, Cheshire East Council
  • Jane Healey Brown FRTPI, associate director, Arup
  • Sarah Chilcott, managing director, Planning Portal
  • Stephen Wilkinson MRTPI, President, RTPI

The event, hosted by the RTPI and Planning Portal, saw Stephen Wilkinson tell the audience he thought politicians were often caught up in the game of seeing who could build the most houses. He wants to see the focus on building homes in the right places, pointing out that 25 per cent of brownfield sites are undeveloped.

The president called for a fiscal regime that benefits the private rented sector as well as encourages local authorities to build.

Sarah Chilcott said planning should be used to help deliver housing instead of seeking to streamline it. Many developments, she continued, have been undertaken with consideration of local infrastructure requirements or section 106 payments, because they had not gone through the proper planning process.

Melanie Leech said she believes that planning should be seen as an enabler, not a series of roadblocks, while Janet Clowes said planning required both strategic coordination and a local effort from councillors. She also noted the importance of neighbourhood plans in delivering local planning.  

The RTPI was present at a number of other fringe events at the Conservative Party Conference.

Trudi Elliott, chief executive, said: “While our message about planning's role in delivery is being heard and understood, there is more to be done.

“We need to ensure the skills and resources for local authorities are available, especially during Brexit. Most now agree that planning has the potential to deliver the economically sustainable and high-quality places we need, but we need resources to do it."

Read more:

RTPI puts planning centre stage at Conservative conference

Shadow housing minister addresses packed Labour Conference event

Corbyn: Houses ‘should not be for the speculative few’

May commits £2bn extra to affordable housing

Reaction to prime minister’s affordable housing cash boost

Image credit | iStock