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Joel Cohen: It takes planners &… politicians

Joel Cohen is Senior Public Affairs Officer at the RTPI

Amidst the volatility and uncertainty surrounding the upcoming election date, political parties have been announcing their candidates in anticipation of the next general election, with many new faces on both sides of the aisle lining up to serve their prospective constituents.

For planners, the yet-to-be-scheduled General Election holds significant importance. The homes, infrastructure, and services that communities rely on are intricately tied to politicians who grasp the power of planning. Political leaders who understand the importance of planning are vital to our country's development. That's why we've been advocating for parties across the UK to support planners and recognise the economic, social, and environmental benefits of planning through our 'planifesto 2024'.

But what about the planners on the ground striving to benefit their communities amidst this amalgam of planning reform and political uncertainty?

We acknowledge the apprehension felt by public sector planners working in local authorities during such uncertain times. On behalf of the profession, we’re taking steps to foster good relationships with political candidates and promote constructive public debate about planning.

However, we understand that the role of a political candidate is multifaceted and not without its challenges. It's no small task to support constituent case work, navigate a planning system undergoing reform, and juggling national party priorities with the needs and desires of local constituents.

Luckily some candidates may bring prior experience as councillors providing them with a more nuanced understanding of local planning dynamics. Whatever their background, all candidates stand to benefit from engaging with the planning profession.

In November of last year, we launched the 'It Takes Planners &' campaign to combat misinformation and highlight the pivotal role planners play in creating vibrant communities. We urge more politicians to stand with planners and advocate for the invaluable contributions they make.

To facilitate better dialogue and understanding between planners and politicians, we encourage all politicians to sign up to the Politicians in Planning Network. With a growing membership, this network serves as a platform to keep politicians informed about planning-related issues and developments.

Additionally, our regular 'planning for non-planners' and free ‘introduction to planning for elected members’ training offers individuals an overview of their role in the planning system, equipping them with key concepts and processes. For elected members, we provide tailored training to ensure they're well-informed and equipped to make informed decisions.

Finally, the RTPI's Public Affairs team remains committed to offering support and guidance. For any inquiries or assistance, please don't hesitate to reach out to us at [email protected].

In navigating the complex intersection of planning and politics, let’s remember that collaboration and understanding are paramount. Together, we can work towards building sustainable, resilient communities for generations to come.

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