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RTPI blog round-up: Preventing climate change: the crucial role of planning

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A round-up of RTPI blogs: 11 November - 18 December, 2015

Preventing climate change: The crucial role of planning

Storm Desmond has made headlines over the past week, having brought exceptionally heavy rainfall to much of northern England, southern Scotland and north Wales, and causing record-breaking flooding in places. The Met Office’s Chief Scientist Dame Julia Slingo warned that “all the evidence” suggests climate change played a role in the floods, as last month, the Met Office published a report showing that for the same weather pattern, an extended period of extreme UK winter rainfall is now seven times more likely than in a world without human emissions of greenhouse gases. This suggests that next to the very important role of flood management, we need to look at the wider factors of climate change and how planning can contribute to tackle these.

By Trudi Elliott, chief executive

A year in RTPI research 

In July, I asked whether academic planning research is serving the needs of practitioners. It’s a question that we also need to ask about the RTPI’s own research work. After all, members pay for our work and deserve to know that we’re spending their money wisely.

So are we doing the right things?

By Dr Michael Harris, deputy head of policy and research

Learning from China: The positive role of planning

October’s state visit by Chinese president Xi Jinping was intended to cement the UK’s new strategic relationship with the world's most populous country. The trip was hailed by British and Chinese officials as the start of a “golden era” of relations which the UK Government hopes will make China Britain’s second biggest trade partner within 10 years. Xi himself noted that “The UK has stated that it will be the western country that is most open to China.”

By Victoria Pinoncély,research officer

Why it costs us to leave development to chance

This week's Comprehensive Spending Review (blog published on 24 November, before the CSR) is likely to be tough for local government. The Department for Communities and Local Government is said to have agreed to cuts of about 30% over the next four years (though this is separate to funding for local government, the details for which will follow).

The RTPI's view, which we've argued repeatedly, is that there is a significant danger that further cuts to local authority planning departments risk the ability of the UK to develop enough good quality places to solve major challenges like the housing crisis. Cuts to planning are then a false economy, since investing in planning is critical to delivering the better quality built environments we need.

By David Pendlebury, economic research officer

Does the solution to London’s housing crisis lie beyond its borders?

This autumn saw a competition from New London Architecture (NLA) which called for innovative solutions to London’s housing crisis. The winning entries ranged from plans to densify the suburbs and capture land value, to ideas for modular, communal and even floating houses. Submissions came from across the professions - architects, engineers, developers, designers, planners – a cross-disciplinary response which showed that there is no simple solution to the crisis.

It was the entry from GL Hearn that offered the most explicitly plan-led approach. Their ‘MegaPlan for a MegaCity’ called for the densification of London’s existing built environment, followed by the establishment of growth and transport corridors along which the city would expand beyond its administrative and green belt boundaries. It shares some common themes with reports from AECOM and the Centre for Cities, who have similarly envisaged how London might expand and connect with neighbouring urban areas. They see that solutions to the housing crisis may need to involve building outwards as well as upwards.

By James Harris, policy and networks manager

Local places connect the international planning community

This year ‘think global, act local’ was taken to a new level with planners and local councillors participating in the biggest global online planning conference ever. The RTPI International’s mission is to play our part in achieving a more sustainable world through spatial planning and through capacity building particularly in developing countries. Members of our international committee did just that in celebrating the achievements of planners worldwide whilst providing an accessible way for professional planners to undertake Continuing Professional Development in an exciting new way. So how were they able to attend an international conference without spending a fortune on airfares and hours trawling through Airbnb’s website?

By guest blogger Richard Summers MRTPI, past president

Faith, Place and Planning: the need for planners and faith groups to engage with and understand each other

I paced the streets of Cardiff during my days as a town planning student, working my way from halls of residence to university through the densely-packed, terraced streets of the city's Victorian and Edwardian neighbourhoods. One of the striking things about the built environment of these neighbourhoods was the frequency of church and chapel buildings.

Christian worship clearly played an important part in the lives of the residents of these places at the time that they were planned and built. Yet, as a student I would pass these buildings as redundant, underused and decaying. One was now a discount store, another was a centre for a Judo club, and another was let out for anyone to hire by the hour. The less fortunate buildings were vacant, in a poor condition, and awaiting some developer to come and knock them down to be replaced by student flats.

By guest blogger, Neil Harris, Cardiff University


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