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Britain's planners launch myth busting campaign to improve understanding of planning

06 September 2011

Britain's planners are launching a nationwide myth busting campaign in England this week to boost confidence in the local planning system and to improve the understanding of the work of the planning profession. 

The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), which represents 23,000 of Britain's planning professionals, hopes the campaign, which is in response to a great deal of recent misinformation and misunderstanding about planning, will enable local people to better understand the system and the roles that planners play.

Local residents can log onto a new web resource which seeks to explode these 'Planning myths' in order to give them a truer picture of both how the planning system works in their area and of the profession generally.  The site also signposts people to where they can get further information and advice on planning.

RTPI President Richard Summers said:

\"It's time many of the myths about planning were dispelled. Good planning can help provide new housing, act as a catalyst for growth and jobs, protect the environment, and give local people a genuine say in developing the character of the places where they live and work. It also prevents a free-for-all where anyone can build what they like, where they like, and when they like.\"

The launch of the campaign, the first of its kind in the RTPI's history, follows the recent debate in the national media about the draft National Planning Policy Framework and reforms to the planning system which has seen interventions from the Prime Minister and the Chancellor.

The Top Five 'Planning Myths':

1. The default response to a planning application is \"No\"

  • Government statistics show that for at least a decade more than 8 in 10 planning applications are granted. The figure for major commercial applications, critical for economic growth, is higher at around 90%.

2. Planning is slow

  • Councils as a whole meet or exceed the 8 or 13 week application targets set for them by the government. Only 0.7% of planning applications take longer than 12 months to reach a decision.

3. Planning is costly

  • Costs continue to fall. Application fees are very small in comparison to the potential profits of development.

4. Planning is a drag on economic growth

  • Planning significantly contributes to growth. The certainty provided by the planning system is essential in supporting business investment decisions. 

5. Planning forces house prices up

  • The current slump in house building is the result of a lack of finance, both for homebuyers and house builders, prevalent since the \"credit crunch\".  The slow-down in planning permissions is the result of a lack of planning applications. There is not a lack of houses, premises to convert or sites to build on. In England, there are around 750,000 empty homes, nearly half of which have been empty for over 6 months, and developers have permission for around 300,000 homes they are not currently building.

The planning system is not perfect and we will continue to argue for improvements. We will also continue to work with local and national government to improve the standards of planning through the work we do with our members, by setting and regulating high standards of professional practice.

Click here for more information about the planning myths.