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RTPI launches Map for England debate

22 March 2012

The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), which represents 23,000 planning professionals, has today launched a debate on the benefits of having a Map for England to plan infrastructure and services and to enable decision makers at the local level to make more informed policy choices.

New research commissioned by the RTPI from Manchester University shows that individual government departments now have more than 100 major maps for England relating to policies and programmes on the economy, transport, communications, housing and the environment. None are available in one place or through a single data source and can be very difficult to find as they are scattered across web sites and within departmental reports.


RTPI President Colin Haylock said:

\"We believe that with a Map for England policy makers could make better judgments about how individual policy proposals interact with and affect development of the country as a whole. Such an initiative would also increase consistency in the appraisal of  policy, improve security and resilience, and provide a better understanding of sectoral issues that might complement or conflict with each other.\"

\"A Map for England offers the opportunity of a truly joined up approach to planning infrastructure and services, perhaps by way of a single portal. Today we are launching a debate on this proposal to see if others share our views and to ask what mapping information should be included.\"

A Map for England would also help to meet the pledge in the Coalition Agreement that data published by public bodies is published in an open and standardised format.

Map for england launch
Pictured above: RTPI Chief Exec Trudi Elliott, Professor Cecilia Wong, RTPI President Colin Haylock, Head of Policy Richard Blyth.


RTPI wants your views


Stakeholders are being encouraged to send their views on 5 key questions about the initiative and can do so by going to www.mapforengland.co.uk


Analysis by the Centre for Urban Studies at Manchester University reveals that in fully two thirds of maps the implications for different places are not made explicit. By overlaying a number of these maps and diagrams together, the researchers demonstrated that some policies and programmes, when considered against each other in relation to different parts of the country, may have unintended consequences.

For example, the study revealed that there is considerable overlap between broad areas where housing growth is projected in the future and where there are the greatest environmental and policy constraints to growth. These constraints include the risk of flooding and expected future household water shortages.

Additional benefits of a Map for England include:

  •     Helping to boost growth.  Housing, industry and business would be able to make quicker and better informed investment decisions which are more closely aligned to public sector infrastructure funding plans.
  •     Being much more transparent.  Local communities would be able to find out about how government plans affect their areas and to influence them.
  •     Saving time and money. When writing new strategies, government departments could see the existing plans for different parts of the country and relate their new strategies to them. Datasets drive innovation.
  •     Helping to coordinate infrastructure across borders with Scotland and Wales.


The study examined a broad range of existing government policies and how they related to each other. To reach their conclusions, the researchers examined government web sites, individual policy documents and large numbers of reports to find policies and programmes that have strong 'spatial' aspect to them: policies which potentially have a different impact in different parts of the country. It was a major task in itself to pull together almost 100 policy maps.  In about one third of these documents the implications for different places are made explicit but in fully two thirds they are not.

By overlaying a number of these maps and diagrams together, the researchers demonstrated that some policies and programmes, when considered against each other in relation to different parts of the country, may have unintended consequences.
Join the debate

Throughout the rest of 2012 the RTPI will be holding various events to stimulate a debate on the Map for England.

Join the debate on the Map for England on Twitter @rtpiplanners or #map4england

Listen to our podcast on why we need a map for England.

Visit www.mapforengland.co.uk for more information.