Royal Town Planning Institute supports Localism Bill - with reservations

The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) has declared its support for the underlying objectives of the Localism Bill and welcomed the central role of planning at the heart of the localism agenda.

But the RTPI said the new Localism Act would fail to deliver a workable planning system unless a number of key issues are resolved including robust transition arrangements, changes to the draft National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and the Local Planning Regulations.

Proper resourcing for the new planning system was also needed, it said.

RTPI president Richard Summers said:

"We congratulate ministers on improving the Localism Bill and listening to some of our suggestions and we appreciate the constructive way they have engaged with us on some of our concerns.  But the real test of the Localism Act will be its implementation and the resources made available to enable the planning system to deliver it.

"Many issues still need to be clarified, some by legal challenge and others through guidance, but the key issue will be to reduce the continuing uncertainty, cost and delay for the planning system and the development industry."

The RTPI say key outstanding issues include:

  • There is the need for agreement to be reached on the arrangements for safeguarding existing local plans and arrangements and on a planned period during which local authorities, the public and the development industry can learn to work with the new regime and implement it in the most effective way.
  • The RTPI will continue the debate on strategic planning and will support the development of effective practice even though the "duty to cooperate" has been significantly strengthened. It is recommending that the Local Planning Regulations should extend the "duty to consult" to include the infrastructure providers that are vital to future growth.
  • The RTPI is concerned that the NPPF could make adopted Local Plans out of date as soon it comes into force as well as wasting significant work on emerging plans. It suggests that, although Local Plans and planning decisions should comply with the NPPF, local authorities should have the responsibility to decide whether their plans are in general conformity with the NPPF. This should not be onerous and the amendment the RTPI has promoted suggests that an expedited process for enabling it should be developed.


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