The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), which represents 23,000 of Britain’s planning professionals, wants to raise confidence in the local planning system and improve understanding among the general public of the work of the planning profession.
The RTPI is setting out to dispel five top ‘planning myths’ (see below) and tackle head on what it considers to be “a great deal of recent misinformation and misunderstanding about planning”.
RTPI president Richard Summers said: “It’s time many of the myths about planning were dispelled. Good planning can help provide new housing, act as a catalyst for growth and jobs, protect the environment, and give local people a genuine say in developing the character of the places where they live and work. It also prevents a free-for-all where anyone can build what they like, where they like, and when they like.”
The launch of the campaign, the first of its kind in the RTPI’s history, follows the recent debate in the national media about the draft National Planning Policy Framework and reforms to the planning system which has seen interventions from the prime minister and the chancellor.
Top Five Planning Myths
1. The default response to a planning application is ‘No’
RTPI says: Government statistics show that for at least a decade more than 8 in 10 planning applications are granted. The figure for major commercial applications, critical for economic growth, is higher at around 90%.
2. Planning is slow
RTPI says: Councils as a whole meet or exceed the 8 or 13 week application targets set for them by the government. Only 0.7% of planning applications take longer than 12 months to reach a decision.
3. Planning is costly
RTPI says: Costs continue to fall. Application fees are very small in comparison to the potential profits of development.
4. Planning is a drag on economic growth
RTPI says: Planning significantly contributes to growth. The certainty provided by the planning system is essential in supporting business investment decisions.
5. Planning forces house prices up
RTPI says: The current slump in house building is the result of a lack of finance, both for homebuyers and house builders, prevalent since the credit crunch. The slow-down in planning permissions is the result of a lack of planning applications. There is not a lack of houses, premises to convert or sites to build on. In England, there are around 750,000 empty homes, nearly half of which have been empty for over 6 months, and developers have permission for around 300,000 homes they are not currently building.
RTPI adds: The planning system is not perfect and we will continue to argue for improvements. We will also continue to work with local and national government to improve the standards of planning through the work we do with our members, by setting and regulating high standards of professional practice.