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12/03/2014

RTPI warns localism could undermine LEPs

Words: Laura Chubb
Local enterprise partnership

The RTPI has warned that the localism agenda is in danger of undermining LEPs.

A new report commissioned through the RTPI's Small Project Impact Research (SPIRe) Scheme, Planning for Growth: The Role of Local Enterprise Partnerships in England, reviews the development of LEPs and their ability to plan effectively for growth.
 
Written by Lee Pugalis MRTPI, Northumbria University, and Alan Townsend MRTPI, Durham University, the report raises questions about how far LEPs can support economic prosperity while the localism agenda continues to be pushed.
 
Dr Michael Harris, Deputy Head of Policy and Research, suggested that, in light of the report, "some decisions are best made at the larger-than-local level".
 
He said: "While the role of LEPs in planning is still developing, there are increasing concerns that the shift from regional planning to localism has left a 'planning vacuum' in some areas which, left unfilled, could undermine the Government's efforts to promote growth and sustainable development.
 
"There is clear evidence that some decisions are best made at the larger-than-local level, which begs a fundamental and increasingly important question: how do we undertake strategic planning effectively to support economic growth objectives as well as sustainable development principles?"
 

"There is clear evidence that some decisions are best made at the larger-than-local level"

 
Planning for Growth is an interim report. The next stage of research will survey LEPs with a view to creating a comprehensive analysis of the planning roles they are focusing on, plus their ambitions and challenges.
 
The final report, slated for May, will include policy recommendations for strategic mechanisms that combine economic growth and sustainable development.
 
LEPs are intended to encourage enterprise and stimulate private-sector-led growth. The roles and governance of LEPs continue to evolve, but the UK government has outlined several planning roles that LEPs could perform.
 
The Government is currently in the process of receiving Strategic Economic Plans from each partnership as part of negotiating Growth Deals, which makes this a critical time in their development, the RTPI said. 
 

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