This website uses cookies so that we can provide you with the best possible experience. If you continue to use this site we will assume that you are happy with this. You can find out more about how we use cookies here. If you would like to know more about cookies, or how you can delete them, click here.

Working in the Public Interest



Planning service delivery is changing: some local authorities have fully or partially outsourced their planning services, others use consultancy services for particular work. Still others are seeking to sell their own expertise, and in England the Government recently put legislation on the statute book which enables developers in pilot areas to choose whether their application is processed by the local council or an approved private sector provider.

The RTPI are partners in the first major investigation in the UK into the increasing involvement of private companies in carrying out professional spatial planning work for local government. It will explore how trends such as these are shaping planning and its public service rationale across the UK.

For the RTPI, a key objective is get a better sense of the challenges its members face in their day-to-day work.

Research questions

The overall research project aims to answer five questions:

  • How have the roles of the public and private sectors in delivering public interest planning goals changed over the post- war period? 
  • Through what public/private organisational forms is planning now delivered?
  • How have professional planners working in diverse settings adjusted to changing organisational arrangements, what 'professional' work do they do, and how do they define and understand their professional identity?
  • What effects do different organisational configurations have on the ways that planning's contested public interest purposes are defined and realised, particularly in relation to the complexities of place, democracy, and local politics?
  • How can 'public service' professional labour be reimagined as a means of better realising public interest goals, and challenging dominant understandings of what public services can and should legitimately deliver?

For more information about thewhole  project please see the official Working in the Public Interest project site.


Research and Outputs

State of the Nations

Working with researchers from the University of Newcastle and University of Sheffield, the RTPI are conducting focus groups to gather the views and experience of practitioners from across the UK.

These focus groups will contribute to a landmark 'State of the Nations' report, which will document how the public and private sectors interact to deliver local planning services around the country. It was also explore what current trends might mean for the future of the profession, and concepts such as 'the public interest'.

Taking part

Please see here for upcoming Working in the Public Interest focus groups.