The RTPI is launching two key pieces of research today at its annual planning convention to highlight the importance of resourcing local planning services and giving them the right level of corporate influence, at a time when society faces a range of unprecedented challenges.
The studies reveal mounting pressure on human and financial resources in local planning authorities (LPAs) on the one hand, and a gradual erosion of the influence of planning in corporate decision-making on the other.
City Mayors are doing the right thing
Victoria Hills, RTPI Chief Executive, says: "Whilst we see the role of planning elevated in central Government, and in the devolved regions with City Mayors recognising and harnessing the power of positive planning to deliver good growth outcomes, we find today many local authorities lagging behind.
"It is imperative that not only is the planning function properly resourced, it must also be part of the decision making in local authorities to ensure that our communities can indeed be resilient through the housing shortage and Brexit." #
LPAs face mounting staffing and financial pressure
“Investing in Delivery”, conducted by Arup, investigates planning services resourcing, staffing pressure and delivery structures in the South East and North West regions over the last five years.
Some of its key findings are:
- Many local authority planning services are not able to effectively recruit and retain staff to meet service objectives
- Resources are diverted from place-shaping activities to core statutory functions
- Planning application fee increases are not enough to address resource challenges
Corporate status of local planning relegated across the UK
Meanwhile, a separate study of the management structure of local authorities reveals that the planning function has been relegated to lower positions in the corporate structure of local authorities across the UK.
It finds that the head of planning is a member of the top management team in only 17% of councils in the UK despite the fact that the majority of respondents in the abovementioned Arup survey agree that “planning is seen as a core service in the wider local authority”.
More than 200 people are expected to attend today’s convention, with various speakers sharing their views on a range of subjects around the theme of “Resilient Planning for Our Future”.