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PR 13 - Lyons says place-shaping is local Government's core function

26 March 2007

The RTPI has welcomed publication of Sir Michael Lyons's Independent Review into Local Government which sets out a compelling case for 'place-shaping' to improve the well-being of a place and the people who live there.  The RTPI now wants to see a far wider debate on how Sir Michael's view of this key role for local government should be put into practice – but it is certain that proper planning lies at the heart of this.

Will French of the RTPI said today that \"The true importance of the Lyons recommendations lies not in short term concerns about Council Tax bands but about how we create the sorts of places and provide the sorts of services that people deserve.  We need a wide debate on how local authorities and planning in particular can rise to this challenge.\"

Lyons' conception of place-shaping is considerably wider than the physical developments with which planning is generally associated. However, new 'spatial' approaches to planning now link planning for physical development with planning for the environment and the services needed to support it.  Spatial - planning provides the tools for Local Authorities to influence and change the physical shape of our towns and cities.  Spatial planning is now the mechanism for delivering sustainable development on the ground.

Lyons' recommendations on the balance between central and local control closely echo those of the RTPI's soon to be published Effective Practice in Spatial Planning Report which calls on government to resource innovative and joined-up approaches to planning and which are now beginning to provide high quality places throughout the country.  Both Lyons and the RTPI identify a high degree of central control over spending as a major constraint to effective local place-shaping, as it leaves little flexibility to fund activities required locally or to innovate.  Local and Multi Area Agreements should fund developments that local people identify as high priority.  To achieve this end they need closer local partnership and better delivery mechanisms, not central control.

Lyons has also considered the implications of the Barker and Eddington proposals for the future of the planning system.  While supporting proposals to reform planning processes for major infrastructure projects, Lyons warns that new arrangements must allow local communities to make their views known.  The RTPI strongly agrees with this position and has long campaigned for greater community involvement.

The RTPI also welcomes Lyons' clear concerns about the Government's Planning Gain Supplement proposal.  Under this proposal, a tax would capture some of the rise in land value due to planning decision making benefits of development for the community.  If a PGS is introduced, Lyons agrees with the RTPI and says it should be designed primarily as a local rather than a national revenue source.  Like the RTPI he also thinks that there must be a transparent and predictable link between local development and local resourcing in order to incentivise beneficial development.  Lyons's weighty view adds to a growing chorus of opinion that current PGS proposals need to be reconsidered from first principles.


For further information please contact:

Will French, RTPI Policy team

Notes to Editors:

1.       The Lyons Review is available at

2.       Information about the RTPI's Effective practice in Spatial Planning Project is available at  Outputs from this work have been used to provide advice to HM Treasury in its review of infrastructure for housing growth available at:  and

3.       The RTPI has worked with CLG to provide guidance on on Local and Multi Area Agreements (LAAs/MAAs) which can be found at:

4.       The RTPI's latest position on Local and Multi Area Agreements (LAAs/MAAs) and their relationship with the planning system can be found at:

5.       The RTPI's response to the PGS was jointly prepared with law firm Halliwells LLP and is available at


The RoyalTown Planning Institute (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:

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