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The Royal Town Planning Institute, in its submission to the Nolan committee, has called for all planning authoritie...
The Royal Town Planning Institute, in its submission to the Nolan committee, has called for all planning authorities to have a designated head of planning.

This is just one of the ways in which the institute believes the planning profession could reduce public distrust in the planning system.

Anthony Slack, chair of the RTPI's professional activities committee, which prepared the submission, said: 'Public trust in the planning system, whether justified or not, must be a source of concern. The institute welcomes the committee's inquiry as an opportunity to identify any real problems and to recommend appropriate safeguards.'

Mr Slack said that one of the most effective safeguards against abuse of the planning process was the existence of a qualified, trained and properly regulated body of professional planners with the duty to offer planning authorities their expert and unbiased advice, free from political or other improper pressure.

Among the items put forward by the institute for Nolan's consideration are:

-- every planning authority should have a designated head of the planning service who is qualified for election to membership of the RTPI and who has direct access to councillors as their professional adviser on planning matters

-- local planning authorities be under an obligation to ensure that members of planning committees are properly briefed on their statutory responsibilities and receive guidance on potential conflicts of interest

-- a range of safeguards to be adopted over the delegation of powers to planning officers

-- a look at achieving greater transparency in the obtaining of planning gain, within existing policy constraints.

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