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RTPI letter to The Sunday Times

24 December 2017

Following articles published in The Sunday Times on 17 December claiming corruption is endemic in the English planning system, RTPI has complained to the paper and sent the following Letter to the Editor in the name of Stephen Wilkinson, our President. 

"Your article (Bricks, bribery and mortar — the flaw built into our planning rules, 17 Dec) claiming corruption is “endemic” in the English planning system lacked sound evidence and integrity. Whilst planning’s role and operation is the subject of constant debate, rarely does this descend into such a groundless attack on the profession.

"RTPI chartered planners are bound by a strict code of conduct which leads to a high standard of professional ethics. Charges of corruption are extremely rare.

"Rohan Silva’s dislike of the Town and Country Planning Act 1947 appears to stem from the fact that control over land use and development is vested in the community, and not solely with landowners. Today’s planning system is underpinned by the principle that development should deliver the widest possible range of public benefits.

"Despite severe budget reductions, councils are granting more planning permissions than ever, but planners are right to take time to make sure that the most public good is derived from development before it is allowed to go ahead. What Mr Silva sees as bureaucracy is a vital process to scrutinise and extract the best possible outcome for the community.

"Improvements to the planning system will not come from giving landowners/developers pre-existing right to build, but in proper investment in planning services and in a fundamental reform of how physical and social infrastructure is funded.

"Planning is essential to a modern economy, with decisions vested in the democratic process for which planners are vital guardians." 

A shorter statement was issued to our members' magazine, The Planner.

Our immediate response on social media was widely noticed, including Planning magazine "RTPI hits out over 'unfounded' planning corruption allegations" (paywall).