The UK Government’s Industrial Strategy shows a welcomed reaffirmation of a more coordinated and directional approach to economic planning, but it fails to link up with other government strategies such as housing and the environment, and is also too centralised in its thinking, planning experts say.
Housing and climate change sectors pose major opportunities
In its response the RTPI says that house building and environmental protection present major economic and technological innovation opportunities that need to be exploited by the Industrial Strategy. Conversely, the Strategy has huge implications on these (and other areas like research and education) that warrant their close integration.
The RTPI believes that the Strategy should set out specific, mission-oriented objectives such as making a transition to a green economy and building 1 million homes. These could provide a great catalyst to innovation growth and exports while at the same time improving the lives for UK citizens.
Richard Blyth, RTPI Head of Policy and Research, said: “The Government has just launched a Housing White Paper, but construction skills is not drawn out as a priority in the Industrial Strategy. This is just one example that shows the need for much greater clarity on how the Strategy will work with other strategies, and how it can take advantage of the opportunities they pose.
“Another crucial missing link, in our view, is the area of environment and climate change. The 25-year Environmental Plan that the Government has committed to produce, and the country’s obligations under the Climate Change act and Clean Growth Plan should all shape the Industrial Strategy and the design of mutually compatible targets. But these have received little attention in the current Green Paper.”
Priorities must be determined locally
The RTPI says the Strategy needs to take a less centralised approach in areas like research, the designation of favoured industrial sectors and funding decisions, and acknowledge that many priorities must be determined locally – by city regions, devolved governments, local authorities and local institutions.
The RTPI also emphasises the importance of built environment professional services to the Industrial Strategy, and why it is vital to maintain the UK’s high standards of professionalism, environmental protection and construction products.
Failuire to invest in planning will be noticed overseas
Mr Blyth continued: “A race to the bottom on environmental standards will mean our consultancies lose valuable marketable value. And if the UK fails to invest in and value urban planning and other built environment professional services, this will not go unnoticed in overseas markets, not to mention detrimental impact at home.”
RTPI’s full response to the Industrial Strategy Green Paper is here.