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RTPI President speaks at Labour Party conference

04 October 2007

New Communities and Local Government Secretary of State, Hazel Blears, heard first hand what RTPI members feel about a range of issues when President Jim Claydon co hosted a meeting of the Fabian Society at the Labour Party Conference in Bournemouth on 'Place Shaping'. Jim, speaking after Ms Blears, highlighted the fact that it was the 60th anniversary of comprehensive planning legislation introduced by a previous Labour government which saw proper spatial planning as essential to the achievement of so many of its objectives. Spatial Planning is the means by which place-shaping is achieved, bringing together competing uses for space – a national spatial framework is also essential to provide the country with much needed infrastructure. We now run the risk, said Jim, that too much of a fixation on the regulatory aspects of planning leads to a failure to recognise planning's wider potential for establishing a true vision for the future of an area and in ensuring that communities have been fully involved in setting out that vision. Planning Aid has played an important role in empowering the communities to help shape the future of where they live and work. The point at which many of the government's agendas all come together - sustainable economic growth, decent housing for all, healthy communities, an inclusive society - is in local places and positive planning has a huge role in how they are shaped. Jim also identified the tensions in government policy: between choice and sustainability; urban extension and the green belts; housing need and supply; and the danger of identifying ecotowns outside of the proper planning framework, and how this runs counter to principles of sustainability.