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RTPI welcomes John Denham MP as New Communities Secretary

08 June 2009

The Royal Town Planning Institute has welcomed the announcement of John Denham MP as the new Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. John Denham replaces Hazel Blears following her resignation in the run-up to today's reshuffle.

Rynd Smith, Director of Policy at the RTPI, said: \"We welcome John Denham as an astute appointment to this critically important role. John brings a wealth of experience as an environmental campaigner and local councillor, former housing committee chair and as Universities and Innovation Secretary to this role.

\"The RTPI is committed to the continuous improvement of planners' skills and the promotion of inter-professional working to deliver sustainable communities. John's recent Cabinet role suggests he will make a strong contribution to the skills agenda.

\"We call on John to recognise that effective spatial planning involves communities and to build on the excellent work that his predecessors have done to develop Planning Aid.\"

With a new Secretary of State at the helm, opportunities emerge to build the contribution that planning can make to economic recovery.

\"Recent cuts to Housing and Planning Delivery Grant did not help the planning system to sustain the capacity and skills necessary to make the best contribution to economic recovery\" said Smith. \"Perhaps John could follow the recent example provided by the Welsh Environment Minister and increase funding at this vitally important time, helping us to prepare communities for the economic up-turn?

\"Planning has a central role to play in managing the UK's response to climate change and the RTPI also looks to John to further develop its role, particularly in the support of behavioural change and the adaptation of existing places to a greener, more sustainable future.\"