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Increase in RTPI membership, but more resourcing needed for planning

The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) has today announced that it will end 2020 in a position of strength with a record number of members.

Despite a challenging year, the total number of RTPI members has now reached 26,000 for the first time, including continued growth in the ‘pipeline’ categories of Student and Affiliate.

There has also been an excellent take up of the new Chartered Town Planner Apprenticeship, the RTPI has announced, with over 200 apprentices currently studying at 10 universities across England. Encouragingly, 65% are female, more than 80% are employed in the public sector and more than half come from families where neither parent has a degree.

However, amongst the positive news of membership and apprenticeship numbers, the RTPI has heard that many local authority planners, particularly in England, feel that they are working with one hand behind their backs, unable to do their jobs fully because of a lack of resourcing.

A recent RTPI survey found that over 60% of members felt they were sufficiently skilled to deliver on the government’s ambitions for design and placemaking, but were unable to do so because they were too busy delivering wider planning priorities. 

The need for extra resourcing was also highlighted in the RTPI’s recent report with Grayling Engage, which found that planners needed to explore inclusive and innovative ways of reaching out to more people in order to capitalise on the renewed interest of communities in shaping post-pandemic places.

RTPI Chief Executive Victoria Hills said:

“We are delighted that membership of the RTPI has grown in 2020, despite the difficulties we have all faced. Planners around the country are taking the important step in their careers of seeking to achieve Chartered status, the hallmark of professional expertise and integrity.

“Employers and members of the public know that planners with MRTPI after their name are those who have seriously invested in their own professional development and adhere to a code of conduct specifying high standards of professional ethics.

“We are also extremely pleased that the new planning apprenticeship is realising our ambition to broaden the talent pool of young people entering the profession. As the country starts to recover from the pandemic and mitigate the effects of climate change and Brexit, we need talent now like never before - our Plan the World We Need campaign highlights the vital importance of having expert planners if we are to succeed in tackling these challenges. 

“However, we are painfully aware that planning authorities across the country are under-resourced. Despite the best efforts of planners themselves, unless there is sufficient investment from government we risk failure in achieving government and society’s goals of creating greener, more inclusive and economically resilient places with sufficient well-designed homes and buildings located in vibrant places.

“This is why we have asked for £500m for planning authorities over the next three years. Planners are ready, willing and certainly able to deliver - just think how much the profession could achieve with sufficient resources.”

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