RTPI challenges ‘Accelerated Planning System’ proposals


The RTPI has questioned whether proposals for an ‘Accelerated Planning System’ would deliver the expected improvements to the planning system
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The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) has questioned whether proposals for an ‘Accelerated Planning System’ would deliver the improvements to the planning system required by councils and expected by both the Government and the public

In its response to proposals for an ‘Accelerated Planning System‘ from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, the RTPI has argued that realistic goals would help to increase the speed and quality of councils’ planning services at scale more effectively, as well as calling for long-term capacity building and investment to enable planners to consistently meet higher standards.

The Institute has suggested that an ‘accelerated’ service focused on meeting existing statutory decision deadline of 13 weeks, rather than the proposed 10 weeks, would be more achievable.

The Institute suggested coupling this with careful monitoring to avoid disruptions to other application types, a national delegation scheme to empower planning officers, and ringfencing planning fees to safeguard the additional income generated by planning services.

Penalising underperformance must be nuanced

The Institute warned that, without these changes, measures could lead to an increase in costly appeals, a net loss of planning resources, and a net increase in the time it takes for development to begin.

According to the RTPI, better monitoring of planning performance and the extension of time agreements used by planning services could constructively improve council performance. However, imposing unreasonably high delivery thresholds and a complete ban on EOTs for underperforming services would likely lead to poorly performing services to the designation.

While acknowledging the need for government action to address delays in planning appeals processing and pressures from case law that prevent developers from altering their permissions, the RTPI remains sceptical of the efficacy of the government’s proposed solutions.

The investment must match expectations in an Accelerated Planning System

Victoria Hills, chief executive of the Royal Town Planning Institute, said: “Ministers have rightly acknowledged that the confidence of both businesses and the public in our planning system hinges on councils’ ability to adequately fund the services they provide.

“However, we believe that high expectations alone may not lead to the improvements that businesses and communities want. Continued investment in much needed public services is what is needed to deliver accelerated outcomes.”

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