The Royal Town Institute has responded to the Coalition Government's Budget Statement.
Ann Skippers, President of RTPI said:
'The RTPI recognises the urgent need to address the national deficit and is pleased to see the commitment to maintain most capital spending. It is, however, disappointing that the Budget shows little appreciation of the very positive impact and key role planning and planners' skills have to play in fostering economic recovery, job creation and achieving value for the limited money available for public investment.
Government departments with responsibilities for planning and infrastructure provision (including Communities and Local Government, Environment, Energy and Climate Change and Transport) each face a huge 25% cut in their funding over the life of this Parliament. This coupled with the freeze in Council Tax (2011-12) and the cancellation of all Housing and Planning Delivery Grant funding means that public sector planning is likely to experience a significant reduction in financial support. We believe that it is essential that the vital contribution of public sector planning is recognised.
The budget confirms the Government's commitment to abolishing Regional Development Agencies while a White Paper later this summer will set out proposals to create Local Enterprise Partnerships, based primarily on English cities. It also commits the Government to consider further the required framework of incentives for local authorities to encourage development and includes proposals to simplify planning consents, based on the increased use of Local Development Orders.
In contrast to recent announcements on the removal of Regional Spatial Strategies, the Budget does recognise the benefits of regional economic policy through establishing a regional growth fund, giving National Insurance relief to new small businesses in regions outside the south and east of England and reiterates support for a limited number of transport infrastructure projects in the Midlands and North of England.
The Institute supports the commitment to the publication of a national infrastructure plan in the autumn as well as to the establishment of a Green Investment Bank and the roll-out of digital infrastructure throughout the country. There is also a welcome announcement of a 'Green Deal' to help householders invest in home energy efficiency improvements.
We urge the Government to recognise the vital importance of strategic planning and the need for transition arrangements to be put in place so that the inevitable period of uncertainty does not result in the loss of impetus, commitment and skills. We want to help develop a system and associated good practice that addresses the needs of localities, empowers communities, benefits the economy and the environment.'