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PR 46 - Minister welcomes new way for councils to evaluate planning policies

10 July 2008

Local authorities and regional decision makers are being urged to make use of a new way of evaluating their planning policies.

The methodology, published today, which should be considered as best practice, will help councils and planners to properly assess the combined economic, social and environmental outcomes of their spatial planning strategies.

This model is the result of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) and Communities & Local Government (CLG) Outcome Indicators Project. Communities Secretary Hazel Blears will highlight it in her keynote speech at the RTPI Annual Planning Conference in Westminster today.

Previously, the outcomes of planning policy have been largely measured in isolated categories of outputs like fluctuations in economic activity, changes in public transport use or increases in the number of homes being built. Used in isolation these measurements do not provide a complete picture of the overall impact of planning policy. The Outcome Indicators Project has identified a way of consolidating twenty key measurements - many of which are already taken by local authorities – in a way which will allow decision makers to develop a clear picture of the overall impact of their planning policies on local communities.

The RTPI is urging local authorities and regional decision-makers to apply this approach, collate the required measurements annually, and analyse the data at regular intervals to see if sustainable outcomes are being achieved in economic growth, social cohesion and environmental quality. Steps can then be taken to adjust policy to meet desired objectives.

Communities Secretary, Hazel Blears, said: \"Measuring and understanding the impact of long term planning is essential if we are to shape the places we live in the right way.  The Outcome Indicators Project gives councils a new more rounded evaluation tool to consider. It builds on existing monitoring structures that already help councils plan, monitor and assess the way they plan for sustainable communities. \"

RTPI Secretary General, Robert Upton, said: \"Effectively measuring the outcomes of a planning policy is a tricky task and too often it has been thrown in the too hard basket in favour of quick and dirty single measure methods. But simply measuring movement in an area's economy or carbon footprint in isolation is not a satisfactory way for local authorities to evaluate the outcomes of their planning policy. They need to take into account measures from right across the board including things like housing affordability, public transport use, job density, commercial floor space development and environmental protection.

\"By adopting the measures set out in the Outcome Indicators Project, local authorities and regional planners will be able to gain a much clearer picture of the overall effect their planning policy is having on communities, the economy and the environment. This knowledge will allow them to adjust their existing policies to correct any undesirable imbalances that might be revealed and make better policy decisions in the future.\"

For further information or to arrange an interview please contact:

Dale Atkinson, RTPI Communications Manager, 0207 929 9479 dale.atkinson@rtpi.org.uk

Notes to Editors:

A full copy of the Outcome Indicators Project, which was carried out by the Centre for Urban Policy Studies at the University of Manchester and the University of Sheffield can be found here. A copy of the executive summary is attached.  

The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) is a dynamic organisation leading the way in the creation of places that work now and in the future. We understand that just as people develop places, so places develop people.  We are committed to the enhancement of our natural and human environment, using spatial planning to manage competing pressures on our built environments and the very real effects on our space.  Through our 21,000 members, we constantly seek to create areas and places in which people want to live and work.

For further general information, visit the RTPI website at: www.rtpi.org.uk

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