More than 170 people, including RTPI members from around the country, packed out an RTPI organised fringe event at the Conservative Party Conference on Tuesday. The theme of the event – one of the most popular of the week – was 'localism, democracy and delivery - a new agenda for planning?'.
Key note speaker Bob Neill MP, the Shadow Planning Minister, outlined his party's proposals to reform planning in advance of a Conservative green paper on the issue (expected by the end of the year.)
Of most interest to RTPI members were his commitment to abolish regional spatial strategies within 10 days of a Conservative administration being elected; the transfer of more planning power to local authorities; the potential that the LDF process could be reformed; the scrapping of the standalone Infrastructure Planning Commission and return of major infrastructure decision making power to Ministers; and changes to 'incentivise' local authorities to build more housing.
This sparked a lively discussion featuring questions from both RTPI members and Conservative party members and elected representatives.
Bob Neill also paid specific tribute to the 'outstanding' work of Planning Aid. Sue Manns, from Planning Aid gave a passionate endorsement for the inclusion of local people in genuinely influencing the places where they work and live and said that this would be vital if 'localism' were to be effective.
Chaired by RTPI Managing Director Sara Drake, the panel of speakers included Institute President Martin Willey, who outlined some of the RTPI's concerns about potential planning reforms, and Kay Boycott, from Shelter, who gave her views on the hidden problems caused by the lack of housing provision.
See our photostream.
An audio recording of the meeting is available.