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RTPI Budget response

22 April 2009

Responding to today's Budget, RTPI President Martin Willey said:

"The planning process is an essential part of any market recovery. Local authority resources must be applied to projects, accelerating necessary social and physical infrastructure and housing and - above all - engaging the community and taking them with us."

Britain's planners welcomed Chancellor Alistair Darling's £1 billion housing package as a critically important measure to provide much needed housing and stimulate economic recovery by maintaining capacity and jobs in the development sector.

But they warned a proportionate stimulus was necessary to provide the essential economic, social and environmental infrastructure needed to deliver genuinely sustainable development.  

Mr Willey added: "The Chancellor must engage in the planning and community engagement process if he is to deliver the green, housing and jobs agenda. The planning process looks at the evidence, reviews the options and impacts on society and then secures the framework for secure public and private investment."

The Housing and Planning Delivery Grant (HPDG) should be there to ensure planners can deliver housing plans, but this funding is not ring-fenced. Councils can use it as they see fit.  Some are not prioritising planning and some are laying-off planners in response to the downturn in planning applications and reduced planning fee receipts.

For this economic boost to be timely and of good quality, urgent action is needed now to provide up to date plans and to maintain the planning skills needed to assess major development proposals.

If the government wants to see its housing package planned for and delivered, it must ring-fence its grant to ensure that vital plan and decision-making capacity is not lost.