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New research shows that ‘larger than local’ public sector leadership key to private sector growth

22 July 2014

Research published today by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), representing 23,000 professional planners working in the private, public, education and charitable sectors, demonstrates the critical role that a strong, committed and appropriately-resourced public sector has in encouraging private sector growth. The research pinpoints the role local authorities play in devoting resource to ‘spatial planning’ and securing housing and employment land allocations across administrative boundaries as being the key to effective public-private partnerships.

The importance of the public sector as a catalyst, facilitator and leader has been under-appreciated.

Against a policy background of major planning policy reform across the UK aimed at delivering growth, the report bolsters the view that positive ‘larger than local’ public sector-led planning is essential for sustainable economic growth.

Cath Ranson, President of the RTPI, said: “The importance of the public sector as a catalyst, facilitator and leader has been under-appreciated. Business brings dynamism and an entrepreneurial flair to public-private sector partnerships but what the research indicates is that the continuity of vision and resources that local government brings is the vital ingredient. For strong private sector growth we need an efficient and effective public sector which works cooperatively with both business and neighbouring authorities.”

Examining three public-private partnerships in the South East of England – the Partnership for Urban South Hampshire (PUSH), the Gatwick-Diamond Initiative (GDI), and South-central Oxfordshire/Science Vale UK (SVUK)  –  researchers at Oxford Brookes University and University College London, set out to produce a checklist against which effective economic leadership through such partnerships can be judged. The researchers concluded the fundamental factors are the identity and image of an area, the clarity and detail of development strategies, the ability to prioritise development and investment, stakeholder engagement, wider political influence, and resources.

The research was conducted for the RTPI by Dr Dave Valler, Oxford Brookes University, and Professor Nick Phelps, University College London.

The research was commissioned through the RTPI’s Small Project Impact Research (SPIRe) Scheme, which encourages high quality research projects that have the potential to impact on policy and practice.