This website uses cookies so that we can provide you with the best possible experience. If you continue to use this site we will assume that you are happy with this. You can find out more about how we use cookies here. If you would like to know more about cookies, or how you can delete them, click here.

PR 11 - Planning white paper must drop 'unworkable' Barker recommendations

21 March 2007

The Government's Planning White Paper is expected to bring forward recommendations made in the recent 'celebrity' reports commissioned by the Treasury. The Eddington and Barker reports both make useful contributions but the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) is calling on Government to abandon the abolition of the needs test and the presumption in favour of development recommended by Barker. Also on the RTPI's hit-list is the issue of 'payments on the side' or neighbourhood agreements.

Kelvin MacDonald, RTPI Director of Policy and Research said: \"Removing the needs test and moving away from plan-led development is a charter for unsustainable tin sheds and the undermining of our town centres. These two proposals are unworkable, even Kate Barker herself has now downplayed these two recommendations.

\"Side payments, or neighbourhood agreements, can only serve to undermine a planning system rooted in local democracy and the public good and should be consigned to the Governments burgeoning 'bad planning ideas' drawer.\"

The Planning White Paper could deliver significant benefits to the planning system and to people who use it. For example:

•         Creating an independent commission for major infrastructure projects within a framework of clear national policy would significantly remove the delays and confusion associated with current projects.

•         The RTPI welcomes Communities and Local Government emphasis on planning and climate change. The RTPI looks to the White Paper to carry on the work embodied in the consultation draft of the PPS on Planning and Climate Change.  It should, in particular, cover the role of spatial planning in managing demand.

•         The White Paper should deliver joined up thinking in conjunction with the recent Local Government White Paper and the upcoming Lyons review. The introduction of a strategic investment plan and programme for infrastructure would join up planning gain with local authority and infrastructure provider spending priorities to make sure we deliver places that work.

•         Bringing forward the much delayed Householder Development Consents Review would extend permitted development rights to householders, freeing up vital planning resources. However this should not extend to neighbourhood agreements or 'side payments'. Where changes are made that affect the public realm they must stay within the planning system.

Government can use the Planning White Paper to further their support and backing for integrated community engagement and democratic involvement. They can help integrate funding and investment decisions with local plans, strengthen the planning system whilst also streamlining it, and, in consultation, set clear policy positions on major infrastructure decisions such as wind farms and airport expansion. To muddy these waters with the three highly unpopular and unfeasible Barker recommendations would be to the detriment of communities and planning in the UK.


For further information please contact:

Andrew Kliman, RTPI Communications Manager, 0207 929 9479, mob. 07870 672 020

Kelvin MacDonald, RTPI Director of Policy and Research, 0207 929 9474


Notes to Editors

1. The Planning white Paper is provisionally due out in 'late spring'.

2. An overview of RTPI involvement in and positions on the White Paper can be found at:

3. RTPI's 'Towards the White Paper, 10 issues' paper can be found at:

4. The RTPI's response to the Eddington review of Transport, Barker review of Land-Use and response to the Local Government White Paper can be linked to from:

5.  The RoyalTown Planning Institute (RTPI)

The RTPI is the largest professional institute for planners worldwide, with over 20,000 members.

The RTPI is a dynamic organisation leading the way in the creation of places that work now and in the future. We understand that just as people develop places, so places develop people.  We are committed to the enhancement of our natural and human environment, using spatial planning to manage competing pressures on our built environments and the very real effects on our space.  Through our members, we constantly seek to create areas and places in which people want to live and work.

As well as promoting spatial planning, RTPI develops and shapes policy affecting the built environment, works to raise professional standards and supports members through continuous education, training and development.

For further general information, visit the RTPI website at:

41 Botolph Lane, London, EC3R 8DL, charity no. 262865