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Alliance urges key role for "larger-than-local" planning in reformed system

An alliance of 29 national bodies led by the Royal Town Planning Institute has urged the Communities Secretary to ensure that strategic planning – planning at the “larger-than-local level” – is embedded in reforms to the planning system.

In a letter to Eric Pickles, the group noted initiatives such as the establishment of local enterprise partnerships and the regional growth fund.

But they said some aspects of the government’s proposed reforms “could hinder solutions to the housing crisis, to investment in enterprise in different parts of the country, to providing a lead to tackle climate change, to rapidly expanding renewable energy infrastructure and to reversing biodiversity loss”.

The alliance said there was still a need for planning at a larger-than-local level enabling communities and groups of communities to express a vision for the future of an area wider than their own locality. “This approach to planning sets out priorities for investment and solutions to problems which must, of necessity, be addressed beyond neighbourhood or district boundaries.”

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It added that this approach would also provide certainty to investors, infrastructure providers, community initiatives, developers and enterprise.

Signatories to the letter included:

  • British Property Federation
  • British Urban Regeneration Association
  • Campaign for Better Transport
  • Chartered Institute of Housing
  • Friends of the Earth
  • National Housing Federation
  • Planning Officers Society
  • Shelter
  • Town and Country Planning Association

The alliance called for a meeting with the Communities Secretary to discuss their concerns, offering to work together with the DCLG and local authorities to develop thinking, policies and systems.

RTPI president Ann Skippers said ministers needed to be careful not to miss the bigger picture while the localism agenda gathers pace.

She said: “Communities need some level of strategic thinking beyond the local level to deliver many of the things they want, such as hospitals, transport links, waste management and flood protection.

“The most pressing issues facing the nation, for example, such as the housing crisis, economic recovery, climate change and biodiversity loss, cannot be dealt with solely at a local level.”

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