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Social enterprise scheme places planners in local government

Words: Laura Edgar
Placemaking / iStock_000036031766

The first group of planners taking part in a pioneering programme to boost the capacity of planning departments has been selected.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan announced the successful applicants during a site visit today (16 May) to the East Croydon Masterplan area.

Of 200 applicants, 17 associates will take part in year-long placements in local authorities across London and the South East.

The associates will be working strategically to deliver better-designed and more inclusive places to help councils address housing shortages.

Launched last year, Public Practice intends to address a lack of public sector planning capacity. Local authorities are using the first cohort to bring in design expertise, as almost half of councils lack any in house design capacity.

Placements range from setting up council-led housebuilding programmes to shaping masterplans for new garden towns. The mayor’s office has forecast that together, the cohort will unlock or improve 17,000 homes, create or improve 19,000 square metres of public realm, accelerate the delivery of £26 million of public infrastructure and engage more than 3,400 people in planning over the next year.

Of those appointed to the roles, 71 per cent are women and 24 per cent are BAME.

Khan said: “In order to deliver the well-designed housing and public spaces our capital needs, it’s vital our local authorities benefit from fresh talent to boost their skills and capacity. The new draft London Plan puts good design principles at its heart, and highlights the importance of ensuring new developments maintain the capital’s special character and are accessible to all Londoners. By empowering councils to take this approach in their planning, we can help ensure continued good growth for London while also providing our city’s planners with a fantastic opportunity to make a real difference to local areas.”

Public Practice has also announced three new partners who will support the initiative to build public planning capacity across the country: Historic England, Karakusevic Carson Architects and L&Q. They join Public Practice’s founding partners – the Mayor of London, the Local Government Association, Future Cities Catapult, British Land, The Berkeley Group, and Peabody.

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