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RTPI evidence to the UK2070 Commission into city and regional inequalities in the UK

The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) welcomes the opportunity to provide evidence to the UK2070 Commission’s consultation on city and regional inequalities in the UK. The RTPI points out that many UK policies have spatial impacts, often unintended and contradictory. A flexible and integrated approach, linking policies for development, transport is needed. Local and regional authorities in England must have more devolved powers, and planning can lay a major role in improving the productivity of underperforming areas.

Issues which require improved spatial coordination and awareness are matters which have been the responsibility of the National governments in Scotland (NPF 4 framework), Wales (NDF) and Northern Ireland. There is a need to align England with the processes that are ongoing in the devolved Nations, even more after the exit of the UK from the EU’s regulatory framework. We ask for the creation of a single environment governance body to coordinate national actions and hold all UK government to account in the future.

Any long-term strategy for England must take on board the issue of devolution to cities and counties to tackle the big challenges of the century. Planning can play a major role in improving the productivity of underperforming areas, but has been constrained by continual changes to planning policies and regulations and lack of resources.

Efforts to improve labour market opportunities need to consider place-based barriers to work, such as the availability of nearby jobs and the provision of affordable and reliable transport options. Regional inequalities must be addressed through forward-looking national strategy, considering future growth aspirations and linking them to infrastructure provision.

Transport and land use must be integrated to deliver compact and public-transport oriented settlements, improving productivity. At the same time, measures to mitigate the negative externalities from densification must be taken, high-quality accessible green space, policies to support renters and first-time buyers, and subsidised public transport, and the management of traffic demand through road pricing and other traffic removal initiatives. In particular, there is a need for measures to tackle the housing crisis, including greater diversification in the housing market, reform of the land market, and a greater focus on the relationship between location and affordability.

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Click here to read our response

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