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About RTPI research

The RTPI holds a unique position in relation to planning as a professional membership body, a charity and a learned institute. We have a responsibility to promote the research needs of spatial planning in the UK, Ireland and internationally.

The Institute plays a number of roles in relation to planning research:

  • User – drawing on existing research evidence, for example in our Planning Horizons papers
  • Disseminator – acting as a 'bridge' between research, policy and practice, for example through our Research briefings
  • Researcher – adding to the evidence base through in-house research and policy analysis, for example our papers on poverty and inequality and tech sectors and planning
  • Commissioner – funding and supporting targeted research projects, particularly those of relevance to practitioners and policymakers, for example through our SPIRe programme
  • Guider and influencer – promoting a stronger evidence base in planning, for example, through our academic journal Planning Theory and Practice.

Current research priorities

Our current research priorities include:

Better Planning programme

This programme provides practical advice and intelligence to RTPI members and others, in ways which demonstrate how planning is part of the solution to major social, economic and environmental challenges.

Better Planning will focus on key policy and practice topics including housing affordability, the growth of city regions, and responding to climate change.

The programme will engage RTPI members across the UK and Ireland in particular.

Value of Planning

The RTPI's work programme on the value of planning seeks to promote and inform a more considered, balanced and evidenced debate on the relationship between planning and economic growth.

Contrary to the views of some critics, planning can and does play a positive and proactive role in sustainable economic growth and development.

Building on our previous work in this area, in 2017 the RTPI has commissioned research on the value of planning in Wales. This research project will develop and test a model or framework for capturing the economic, social and environmental value delivered by local authority planning.The commissioning client for this project is the RTPI Policy, Practice and Research team in London and RTPI Cymru. This project is kindly supported by Welsh Government.

Location of Development

This programme maps the location of recent planning permissions across 12 English city-regions, representing over 165,000 housing units. It then analyses them by scale and proximity to major employment clusters and railway stations, in order to explore the relationship between housing, jobs and infrastructure.

This research is a first step towards understanding the spatial dimensions of growth across England. It aims to provide a resource for planners and other stakeholders to explore the distribution of new housing across cities, towns and their surrounding rural areas, and to widen the debate around how we monitor the effectiveness of the planning system.

RTPI Awards for Research Excellence

The RTPI Awards for Research Excellence recognise and promote high quality, impactful spatial planning research from RTPI accredited planning schools, and planning consultancies, in the UK, the Republic of Ireland and internationally.

Previous winners of the RTPI Research Awards can be found here.

For more information about RTPI research, please contact

RTPI Research Consultation 2019-21

We are currently developing our Research Programme for the next three years. Our previous 2015-17 research programme focused on several key axes of research – e.g. the 'Better Planning' Programme. The 2019-21 Research Programme will aim to respond to the need of addressing both new critical areas of research like withdrawal from the EU, along with longstanding planning issues like housing affordability, housing land supply and climate change.

We strive to match the professional and intellectual needs of RTPI members with a research agenda that can help address challenges to both planning policy and practitioners. Therefore it is important for us to give RTPI members the opportunity to shape the future of the RTPI research programme.

More information about the consultation and how to take part can be found here.

Learn more about networks

RTPI Networks generate, demonstrate and disseminate knowledge and good practice.

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