Skip to main content
Close Menu Open Menu

This election year: don’t get angry; get organised

RTPI’s Senior Public Affairs Officer, Joel Cohen, looks forward to an important election year

RTPI evidence suggests strongly that planners are busy people; though we hope not too busy to check your letterboxes. There you’ll likely find your polling card as I did recently because this week marks the start of an important series of elections for the UK.

On 2nd May, the residents of 107 unitary, metropolitan and district councils will vote to return new decision-makers to planning committees across England. 10 devolution-inspired mayoral races – with varying planning powers – are also in full swing across many regions; in some areas, for the first time.

While a General Election – to form the next UK Government and change many of the familiar faces lining Westminster’s benches – will not take place in May, it will surely follow soon.

Under the circumstances, even the strongest advocates of democratic values in our planning community may be forgiven for approaching possible political change with anxiety more than excitement. As the RTPI’s latest State of the Profession report suggested, “political change can itself introduce barriers in the operation of the planning system.”

Recent planning reforms demonstrate how proposals can falter under the weight of new Ministers and their new agendas despite the profession’s earnest calls for clarity and certainty since 2020’s ‘planning for the future’ proposals. Planners have also noted that communities are also seeing a growing politicisation of our planning system and of planning decisions at a local level, becoming a barrier to plan-making according to RTPI research.

In response to these challenges, the RTPI has been increasing its efforts to promote the planning profession and to represent its collective voice.

Our grassroots ‘It Takes Planners’ campaign has demonstrated how important the profession is to deciding where homes, roads, offices and shops – the stuff of local politics – are built, and provides our sector with a way to call out the abuse of planners and misinformation where we see it.

However, the institute’s sights – and our active ‘Planifesto’ – are also set on top of the UK’s political system during 2024’s elections: on political parties whose policies frame planning issues in public life and whose decisions create the context – and limitations – of planning across the UK and particularly in England.

In response to these challenges, the RTPI has been increasing its efforts to promote the planning profession and to represent its collective voice.

At this potential inflection point for planning, our politics and our economy, the RTPI is proud to report that all of the major parties have been engaged with our vision for the future of our profession.

Throughout this year, planners can continue to rely on the RTPI to do more than just rebut campaign debating points. We’ll be working publicly to make the case for robust, well-resourced and capable planning services. Behind the scenes, we’ll continue to demonstrate the proactive power of planning and support the major parties and opinion-shaping think tanks to understand how planning can become the solution, not the problem, underpinning any future government’s ‘long-term plans’, ‘missions’ and other commitments.

In this important election year, the RTPI also aims to help planners go on the offensive and become a more active political force. You can support this effort by promoting our ‘Its Takes Planners &’ and ‘Planifesto’ campaigns today, tomorrow and whenever you feel like planning needs a fairer hearing in public life. You can also demonstrate planning’s value by bringing your expertise, experience and insights to bear on the policy discussions of the day.

As they say, “don’t get angry; get organised”.

Back to top