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Victoria Hills: General Election 2024 and your professional institute

Victoria Hills is the Chief Executive of the Royal Town Planning Institute

The RTPI team were representing the interests and concerns of the membership in a very wet Leeds during the largest UKREiif so far when the Prime Minister stood in front of an equally soggy Downing Street to announce a General Election.

The flurry of activity across the conference venue indicated that this had come as some surprise to the political representatives as well as those from the built environment sector. It was, therefore, a point of professional pride that the RTPI was ahead of the game having been speaking about our Planifesto, which we launched at party conferences last year. Being planners, we were of course well prepared.

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Victoria making the case for planning at UK UKREiiF

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Victoria spoke at a number of events at the conference

Our recent Member Value Survey has given us a clear message from the wider membership that would like to see us advocate on their behalf and fight the corner for the planning system and planners.

This election is our opportunity to do just that and potentially shape a new Government’s agenda for planning.

Our Planifesto, developed with our England Policy Committee and national directors, outlines the five key asks we have for any new Government:

  1. Fund councils to deliver high quality planning services
  2. Explain where manifesto promises will be delivered
  3. Strengthen local plans to empower communities
  4. Work with local leaders to avoid piecemeal development
  5. Plan for net zero

We will be assessing the statements and manifestos of the major parties, while providing our commentary on the viability of their proposals across the UK throughout the campaign and making sure that the voices of planners are being heard loud and clear.

But these talking points are for you as members to use as well. As hopeful candidates are knocking doors I have no doubt in my mind that they will knock on the door of planners. I would love to think that those candidates are hearing from passionate planners and the clear asks from our Planifesto.

In the meantime, the RTPI's busy programmes of events and learning opportunities continue and are supported by the RTPI's election guidance on our volunteer hub which is there to make sure that our own activities are falling within the rules as an independent charity and Royal Chartered body.

Given the importance of housing and the positive impact that planning can have for communities across the UK I have no doubt that it will be a very prominent issue in the coming weeks. We will therefore keep advocating for our 27,000 members from the public and private sectors as well as academia.

Wherever we end up when all the ballots are counted and the parties are in position, we will continue the positive engagement that we have under previous Governments. I would hope to see success similar to the ones we have achieved in recent years to be repeated with any new Government to increase public investment in planning services, and, in England, avoid a new Infrastructure Levy and deliver the requirements for consultation, climate change and virtual planning committees that we secured in the Levelling Up and Regeneration Act.

We will also be ensuring that the recently announced Planning Skills Fund announced by the Treasury and the British Chambers of Commerce is honoured and delivers greater resourcing for public sector planning across the UK.

Overall, we know that this will be a busy time, and I want to ensure you that your professional body is doing its absolute best to represent your views. In the meantime, buckle up for exciting times ahead.

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