The RTPI promotes research into planning practice, theory and education. We work with UK and international partners to develop projects and disseminate research findings.
The RTPI's research work aims to:
- Promote the funding and dissemination of research activity informing and evaluating planning policy and practice;
- Promote the awareness and engagement of planning practitioners in planning research at local, national and international scales;
- Encourage interdisciplinary and intersectoral research and dialogue;
- Support research in planning education and lifelong learning.
Our research priorities take forward the following cross-cutting issues:
Spatial planning in practice
Spatial planning focuses on the nature and functions of places and the policies and programmes that are used to develop these places. It is based on the understanding that outcomes will vary depending on an area's unique location andcharacteristics.
Spatial planning seeks to understand the implications of location and associated economic, social and environmental resources. It works with the unique identities and heritage of places, their social needs and environmental capacities for change, and their interactions.
In this context, land use anchors the processes of change, including investment, regulation, governance and management. Spatial planning requires integrated approaches to policy and management that have yet to be fully realised.
Evaluating spatial planning outcomes
The evaluation of spatial planning is a hotly contested issue: what evidence do we have about the impact of spatial planning system on the operation of land and property markets?
The debate has been centred around whether or not planning exacerbates housing supply problems or undermines economic competitiveness. At the same time it is argued that there are profoundly positive impacts of planning, especially in providing more certainty in creating clearer frameworks for development industry decisions and thus enhancing rather than reducing development.
Planning for Healthy Ecosystems
Environmental sustainability demands that human activity does not undermine the environmental resources upon which it depends. The growing realisation of the impacts of carbon emissions on climate is causing a fundamental shift in global approaches to integrating economic activity and environmental management.
Biodiversity and the importance of intact ecosystems in regulating water flow, recharge and quality, for instance, are also increasingly recognised as integral spatial planning considerations. Rapidly developing evidence bases and scientific models, together with enhanced government and public commitments, underline the need for spatial planning to integrate new tools and processes for working with the concept of environmental thresholds, closing materials loops and reducing the ecological impact of human activity.
Inclusive decision making
Spatial planning is inherently a value-driven activity. It must, therefore, fully embrace its role in identifying, understanding and mediating conflicting sets of values, meeting diverse needs as well as addressing shared problems. This underlines the political nature of development decision-making and the challenges facing planning in a pluralist society. Commitment to social and democratic inclusion is fundamental to sustainable development.
Developing the skills and knowledge base
The delivery of spatial planning and its sustainability capacity depends on the knowledge, skills and capacity of the planning community. It involves not only professional development and joint learning between different professions in the built and natural environment, development and health professions, but also the capacity of the business and community stakeholders to engage.