The RTPI considers that a period of consolidation in planning legislation is essential following 10 years of change. However we think there is a great deal a future government can do in public policy outside of planning to get the homes, jobs and environment the country needs. Decentralising decision making on infrastructure and housing finance to city-regions and counties could really help. Getting development to happen requires careful coordination and that is difficult when decisions on essential infrastructure funding are made so far from the sites they affect. This should help unblock the numerous stalled sites we find up and down the country.
Governments of all persuasions have struggled to get local authorities to work together. One reason is that they have emphasised relying on punishments rather than incentives, such as preventing the adoption of plans which haven’t cooperated. We would like to see a new approach establishing strong linkage between government spending on things that people in local areas want, such as transport, schools and health, and the things that government wants, such as cooperation on housing supply.
Land is the critical issue in planning, and its ownership and control is often not conducive to wider public outcomes. Starting with government’s own land, we wish to see much more transparency in ownership and a strong drive to use public land, where it is suitably located, for creating more homes. Rather than confiscating land from recalcitrant owners we would first wish to explore what would get sites moving: joint ventures between local authorities and owners could yield some quick wins.