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PR 29 - Professionally qualified planners must hold senior local Gov posts

21 May 2008

A professionally qualified planner must be on the executive team of every local authority according to the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), which rejects claims made by Housing Minister Caroline Flint that Local Authorities can make do without a chief planning officer. The RTPI believes that having a planner at executive level would improve the quality of planning decisions being made at local government level. It would also improve the likelihood of local authorities delivering the government's planning priorities in a way communities find acceptable.

Giving oral evidence to the Communities and Local Government committee investigating planning skills, Ms Flint said she thought the decision on whether to appoint a chief planning officer should be up to individual local authorities. The RTPI believes local authorities that do not have a professionally qualified planner on their executive team undermine their ability to deliver coherent and consistent planning policy. They also increase the risk of making poor planning decisions, which could have a long term negative impact on their local communities.

RTPI Director of Policy, Rynd Smith, said: \"Without the well considered input of a senior and professionally qualified planner, the ability of local authorities to make good planning decisions is hugely diminished. The only way to ensure that the creation and delivery of sound planning policy is given the priority it requires is to have a professionally qualified planner sitting on the executive board. A local authority without that level of expertise at the pointy end of the decision making process is like a ship without a pilot\"

The RTPI is also concerned by the Housing Minister's rejection of planning training for all local councilors. The RTPI believes that as local councilors are responsible for making decisions on both planning policy and individual planning applications it is imperative that they have at least a basic understanding of the planning system. Such training does not turn them into being planners or prevent them from being politicians. But it does help them to use the planning system that they have been entrusted with in a wise and responsible way.

For further information or to arrange an interview please contact:

Dale Atkinson, RTPI Communications Manager, 0207 929 9479

Notes to Editors:

The Royal Town Planning Institute 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