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Developers must ‘up their game’ on early consultation, says planning chief

11 July 2019

Developers must work harder to engage with both communities and local authorities at an early stage in the planning process, the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) has said.

The comments came in response to research by property company Grosvenor which appeared to find that many members of the public don’t trust developers or local authorities to act in the public’s best interests.

RTPI Chief Executive Victoria Hills said:

“It’s disappointing that this new research from Grosvenor appears to show that public trust in planning is low; thankfully this is not the experience of our professional members. For the planning system to work effectively, it is essential that planning departments are well-resourced to support proactive community involvement in planning consultation, decision-making and design. This works two ways; developers need to up their game on early engagement with communities and local authorities.

“However, we should be wary of placing additional burdens on local authorities who, as a result of austerity, have reduced their net expenditure on planning by 42% since 2009-10. Recent research conducted by the RTPI found that these swingeing cuts have eroded planning’s ability to serve the public interest – to do their work effectively, planners must be adequately resourced and supported.”

Grosvenor said it was seeking to implement a series of commitments across its business to address the ‘drivers of distrust’, including making it easier for the public to weigh the value and costs created by a development; increasing transparency in the development process; and helping communities better understand how to get involved and influence developments.