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PR 14 - RTPI Budget response

12 March 2008

The Government's commitment to investigate road pricing schemes is not before time according to the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), which welcomed the move announced in today's Budget.

Chancellor Alistair Darling has invited the private sector to run a number of road pricing projects in order to find out if the schemes are cost effective and lead to a reduction in the number of drivers on the roads.

RTPI Policy Director, Rynd Smith, said: \"Road user pricing schemes must be seriously considered if we are to reduce the number of carbon emitting vehicles on our roads. However, if you're planning to tax cars off the road you have to make sure alternative transport is not only available but affordable and convenient as well. If the Government imposes a road user tax without introducing viable alternatives we'll end up with the same number of vehicles on the highways only the drivers will poorer and more grumpy.

\"While we are pleased to see commitments to increase public transport expenditure, particularly on the elderly, much more still needs to be done.\"

A commitment to explore measures designed to encourage the refurbishment and renovation of homes and flats that are too run down to sell or rent has been welcomed by the RTPI.

Rynd Smith said: \"We are pleased the Government is looking at ways to encourage the rejuvenation of these properties, which are so frequently a blight on urban areas or evidence of our neglect of our built heritage. Providing VAT reductions on renovations to uninhabitable properties could provide a significant incentive to owners to improve dilapidated premises, including much-loved historic buildings.\"

The Government also announced that all non-domestic buildings built from 2019 will have to be zero carbon.

Rynd Smith said: \"The RTPI supports the Government's aims to make buildings more energy efficient. However, we reiterate the point that even the most eco-friendly building in the world will fail the environment unless it is put in the right place.\"

The Government has again announced its intention to consult on the feasibility of bringing together the Regional Economic Strategy and Regional Spatial Strategy.

Rynd Smith said: \"An integrated strategy can work provided developments are judged against environmental and social impacts as well as economic factors.

\"The Government also needs to move quickly to set out how an integrated strategy will work. Those involved in the sector need to know what their role in a new planning regime might be. Leaving them uncertain as to their future could lead to a loss of skills and, as experienced planners are lost, this in turn could cause delays in the planning process.\"

For further information or to arrange an interview please contact:

Dale Atkinson, RTPI Communications Manager, 0207 929 9479

Notes to Editors:

1. The RTPI's full response to the Budget can be found here.
2. 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