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PR 16 - Quality not speed should be focus of new planning review

25 March 2008

Speed should not be the only marker against which the planning process is judged, according to the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) which says the quality of the final outcome must be the primary concern.

The Government today (Tuesday) announced the 'Planning Applicatons: A faster and more responsive system' Review, which it says will look at ways to make planning applications more efficient. It is the latest to emerge in the wake of the Barker Report on land use planning.

RTPI Policy Director, Rynd Smith, said: \"It is important that decisions are made promptly but the planning system should be judged by the quality of its outcomes, not just the speed with which those outcomes are delivered. A building should last for generations and ultimately its worth will be measured against its use to the community over its lifespan, not whether it gained approval in eight weeks or twelve. It will be a regressive step if, at the end of this review, we simply end up with another set of time-based performance indicators and no thought given to how to assess the value of the final decision.

\"There is room to streamline applications and improve the decision making process. We match the Government's desire to reduce paperwork and would welcome a more proportional approach to planning, which removes some forms of minor development from the planning process. In the RTPI's submission to the Barker review we called on government to make it easier for householders and businesses to make improvements to their properties by scrapping the need to gain planning permission for minor works which have little or no impact on neighbours. We believe this approach warrants further examination.

\"The success of this review relies on a thorough understanding of the current system. Being able to engineer improvements by removing unnecessary planning controls and improving the management and flow of information is the key. Producing a raft of time-based targets that are blind to the quality of the outcome is not.\"

For further information or to arrange an interview please contact:

Dale Atkinson, RTPI Communications Manager, 0207 929 9479.

Notes to Editors:

1. The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI)
The 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 20,000 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
41 Botolph Lane, London, EC3R 8DL, charity no. 262865