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PR 47 - Town centres must take centre stage

11 July 2008

The RTPI is relieved that proposed changes to PPS 6 announced at the RTPI Planning Convention by Communities Secretary Hazel Blears today will reinforce rather than reduce the significant role of town centres in English planning policy.

The RTPI had been concerned that significant changes to PPS6 would undermine existing town centre investment strategies, with the potential to derail millions of pounds worth of regeneration investment in town centres.

RTPI Policy Director Rynd Smith said: \"It is reassuring to see that the proposed impact test maintains the Government's focus on our town centres. At this time in the economic cycle, it is most important that the Government does nothing that could weaken the investment climate for town centre development. The proposed test maintains the direction of existing policy and is sufficiently robust.\"

 \"The RTPI is particularly pleased to see a new emphasis on the power of local planning authorities to identify and enhance the character, quality and diversity of their town centres. The proposed changes favour competitiveness and diversity in a way that should give planners greater freedom to make special places, avoiding the inadvertent development of 'clone towns'.\"

Turning to the potential for a competition test for supermarket retail development, Smith said: \"It is frustrating that following the Competition Commission's recommendations it remains unclear whether PPS 6 will need to be revised again in the near future. What effect a further round of changes might have on the beneficial amendments announced today creates uncertainty as to the shape of the final policy statement. The RTPI has already said that the Commission's recommendations are not well founded. The proposed competition test would itself cause further bureaucracy and delay, disproportionate to the minor benefits that might accrue from its application. The RTPI urges the Government to respond to the recommendations as soon as it can, indicating that it does not intend to impose a competition test. This would provide much needed early certainty around PPS 6.\"

For further information or to arrange an interview please contact:

Dale Atkinson, RTPI Communications Manager, 0207 929 9479

Notes to Editors:

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