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PR 36 - Planners warn against repeating the mistakes of the past by building the Sink-Estates of the future

22 November 2007

The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) welcomes the Callcutt report into housing delivery and especially its focus on delivering quality sustainable places. The RTPI has been warning government against throwing out controls on quality in order to meet its target of three million new homes by 2020.

RTPI Director of Policy, Rynd Smith said: \"The Government is in danger of delivering targets not quality places. Planners will take the launch of the Callcutt report as an opportunity to warn Government not to repeat the mistakes of the past which will create the sink estates of the future.\"

\"Quality means good urban design. It means enjoyable neighbourhoods where you can walk to local schools, shops, jobs and green spaces. It means the use of good spatial planning to provide efficient transport, water, energy and waste infrastructure based on a co-ordinated national framework. All of this adds up to sustainable places: places that mitigate the effects of climate change, provide strong community infrastructure and which people are proud to maintain and be part of.\"

Partnership Working
Achieving great places relies on many partnerships which can not be brushed aside in favour of meeting housing quotas. It requires strong political leadership based on empowered and engaged communities, local authority chief executives recognising that planning stretches across the local authority (through health, housing, waste and crime), and through built environment professionals such as planners, urban designers, architects and engineers working together.

Delivering Quality
Planners need to feel confident in refusing poorly designed development schemes as they are under pressure to meet targets. Part of the current problem is that there are relatively limited agreed benchmarks against which planners can determine what is or is not good design.

The RTPI has proposed in discussions with the Callcutt review team that the Planning Inspectorate, as an independent body, produce a yearly review of good and bad design. This will give an updated set of annual precedents against which planners can base their judgements in the full knowledge they will not become the scapegoats of Government's drive to build three million new homes. The RTPI is also working with RIBA to investigate the use of local design panels that would access independent advice from all the relevant design and built environment professions.


For further information or to arrange an interview please contact:
Andrew Kliman, RTPI Communications Manager, 0207 929 9479,

Rynd Smith, RTPI Director of Policy and Communications, 0207 929 9478,

Notes to Editors

1. The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI)
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 20,000 members, we constantly seek to create areas and places in which people want to live and work.

For further general information, visit the RTPI website at:
41 Botolph Lane, London, EC3R 8DL, charity no. 262865

2 Opening up the debate: Housing and Land Supply Myths: RTPI Evidence to the Callcutt Review