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RTPI response to Telegraph Article

09 August 2011

Trudi ElliottThe RTPI responds to Neil O'Brien's article 'We need three big reforms to get Britain growing'

Sir –

Unfortunately, Neil O'Brien's analysis about how we get Britain growing crucially perpetuates, rather than questions, the myth that the planning system is responsible for everything from the cost of your mortgage and the high level of office rents to the rising housing benefit bill, and that it holds back development (Personal view, 4 August).

This is simply not a coherent argument and does nothing to further the real debate we need. The reality is that our country is a relatively small island with a large and growing population so there is a lot of competition for the available land. We also cannot ignore prevailing global economic difficulties.

Nor do we have, as Mr O'Brien states, some of the world's tightest planning laws. Our system does however, prevent 'planning chaos'. Developers cannot build what they like, where they like, and when they like.

We certainly do not oppose government plans  to incentivise local communities to accept growth.  It is a fallacy though to believe that local people will welcome all development just because there is some kind of financial reward attached to it. The experience of planners is that high quality development, supported by the right services, and genuine community development, is essential to encourage support for growth.

We really must move away from these and the all too many other myths that surround the planning system. That is why the RTPI will shortly be launching a national myth busting campaign to ensure there is a better informed debate about the role of planning and the planning profession in supporting our country's needs.

Trudi Elliott CBE
Chief Executive, Royal Town Planning Institute