Research published today poses questions for Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and the localism agenda in England. ‘Planning for Growth: The Role of Local Enterprise Partnerships in England’ is the interim report into the role of LEPs in strategic planning to support economic growth.
While the role of LEPs in planning is still developing, there are increasing concerns that the shift from regional planning to localism has left a ‘planning vacuum’ in some areas which, left unfilled, could undermine the Government’s efforts to promote growth and sustainable development.
The research, commissioned through the RTPI’s Small Project Impact Research (SPIRe) Scheme, examines the role of LEPs and questions whether the localism agenda, as currently reflected in policy, is in danger of undermining the ability of LEPs to plan as effectively as possible for growth.
Dr Michael Harris, Deputy Head of Policy and Research, said: “While the role of LEPs in planning is still developing, there are increasing concerns that the shift from regional planning to localism has left a ‘planning vacuum’ in some areas which, left unfilled, could undermine the Government’s efforts to promote growth and sustainable development.
“There is clear evidence that some decisions are best made at the larger-than-local level, which begs a fundamental and increasingly important question: how do we undertake strategic planning effectively to support economic growth objectives as well as sustainable development principles”.
The report, written by Lee Pugalis MRTPI, Northumbria University, and Alan Townsend MRTPI, Durham University, reviews the development of LEPs so far and analyses their role in relation to the statutory planning system. It also considers the potential of alternative strategic planning mechanisms.
LEPs are intended to encourage enterprise and stimulate private sector led growth. The roles, remit and governance of LEPs continues to evolve, but the UK Government has outlined several planning roles that LEPs could perform. The Government is in the process of receiving Strategic Economic Plans from each partnership as part of negotiating Growth Deals, making this a critical time in their development.
The next stage of this research will involve surveying LEPs in order to provide a comprehensive and up-to-date analysis of the planning roles that they are focussing on, the challenges they face, and their ambitions for the future.
The final report, due to be published in May, will include policy recommendations regarding strategic mechanisms for combining economic growth and sustainable development.
SPIRe encourages high quality research projects that have the potential to impact on policy and practice.
Further information on the role of LEPs and the interim report, can be found here.