How can we get the planning system to work better?


Councillors and town planning experts are to gather at London's Local Government House today to address the challenges of implementing the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and consider how the planning system could be improved to enable District Councils to get their local plans in place more quickly and effectively.

The conference on Monday 7 April will also focus on the nature of evidence called for when preparing local plans as well as the requirements to meet housing needs across housing market areas.

Speakers at the event include Anna Rose, Head of Planning and Culture at Rugby Borough Council and Alister Scott, Professor of Environmental and Spatial Planning at Birmingham City University.

Professor Scott said: "Councillors have a key role to play as decision makers in shaping the local plan policies and allocations. With the loss of regional planning there is something of a strategic vacuum. The Duty to Cooperate is the government mechanism to try and secure cross council working on policies that have greater than local impact.

"My talk focuses on the pioneering attempt by the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership to formalise the duty to cooperate function through a spatial plan process. Key to this has been ability of public, private and environmental sector planners to work collaboratively in this process. This is not a panacea but a pragmatic response to the challenges of delivering joined up planning when there are complex housing, employment, social and environmental issues, operating across different boundaries, to consider.

"Whilst we can be critical of the new structures that have replaced the regional tier of government I am reminded that it is better to light a candle than curse the darkness. The bold experiment in the development of a spatial plan will offer important lessons for the delivery of the kind of planning system we want."

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