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PR 38 - RTPI challenge to Brown: community engagement in National Infrastructure Projects must be meaningful

26 November 2007

Planning experts, The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), the representative body for over 20,000 of Britain's planners, accept the need for better planning of major infrastructure projects within a national policy framework. Prime Minister Gordon Brown's comments to the CBI today, in advance of the publication of the Planning Reform Bill, are strongly welcomed. However Government must ensure they adhere to the Prime Minister's commitment in his speech of \"allowing the public and local communities to participate effectively in the process\" as part of any new streamlined process.

RTPI Secretary General, Robert Upton said:

\"The Government must not make the mistake of thinking strength of purpose means riding roughshod over communities. Public debate is both necessary and right: you cannot avoid it, and you shouldn't try to. The key word in the Prime Minister's commitment to communities today was 'effectively'. The RTPI will be looking closely at the Planning Reform Bill when it is released to see that the processes of community engagement proposed are effective, properly resourced and deliverable. We won't support anything that short-changes the public.\"

\"The RTPI, more than any other body has argued for up-front investment in infrastructure. We support the idea of national policy statements on infrastructure, but they need to be pulled together in a single joined-up framework.\"

Planning for major infrastructure projects would be greatly improved through a national spatial framework, similar to those in Scotland and Wales. A national framework would allow communities to better participate in planning for this country's energy, waste, transport, housing and water needs by taking developments out of the conceptual realm and making them real. The RTPI will continue to lobby Government to produce a national infrastructure plan.

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 The RTPI in a press release has outlined how an Independent Planning Commission should work