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RTPI BACK MINISTER IN MODERNISING THE PLANNING SYSTEM

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The nation's town planners have expressed a warm welcome for the policy statement on Modernising the Planning Syste...
The nation's town planners have expressed a warm welcome for the policy statement on Modernising the Planning System made yesterday by Richard Caborn, the minister for the regions, regeneration and planning.

Royal Town Planning Institute President Tony Struthers says: 'I am delighted that the government recognises the need for strategic decisions to be taken in a regional framework'.

The minister's statement sets out in a considered and comprehensive way the case for adding clear European, national and regional policy dimensions to our English planning system. The RTPI believes that these elements, building on the minister's restatement of the tested principles of the 1947 Town and Country Planning Act, will produce a planning system fit for the new century.

This approach will help to deliver swiftly the key strategic decisions on land use and infrastructure provision which will be essential in helping to shape the country. Tony Struthers added: 'Real progress in achieving sustainable development, reflecting the sometimes competing challenges of economic, environmental and social objectives, can

only be made through a clear, publicly-tested strategic framework, such as the statement promises'.

Tony Struthers particularly welcomed the consultation paper on The Future of Regional Planning Guidance. He said: 'The RTPI has long sought the strengthening of regional planning - it is the only way to get the right decisions on employment, transport and housing taken in good time, in the right place, by the right people.

'With the creation of the new regional development agencies (RDAs) it is even more vital that regional accountable bodies set out clear strategies to guide investment decisions by the RDAs and major developers.'

These views are set out in more detail in the RTPI's policy submission to the government in October on 'Regional Planning in England: the case for enhancing regional planning guidance.' The RTPI will be preparing detailed comments on the consultation paper.

The minister's policy statement offers the prospect of strong regional planning guidance, prepared in a context of clear national government policy and improved regulations for local planning inquiries, leading to development plans that can really enable local people to shape their communities.

The minister's wish to set in place measures to help local authorities deliver quality decisions on planning applications more quickly is welcomed. The institute will be putting forward its own ideas in the coming months to reduce bureaucratic delay in the planning process.

The RTPI also welcomes the minister's interest in using economic instruments such as taxation, impact fees and tradeable permits through the operation of the market to go alongside the planning system to help create the conditions to encourage and facilitate development that meets the country's needs and tackles its problems.

The statement promises that the RTPI will work with the government in offering training to all councillors who sit on planning committees and in taking forward the 'best value' pilot process in working with local authorities. Tony Struthers is pleased to confirm the RTPI's active involvement in making these initiatives successful.

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