Government cuts have eroded the ability of planners to think strategically and to ‘serve the public interest,’ a report has claimed.
A study, based on focus groups with 50 planning professionals from across the UK, concluded that under-resourcing and reforms that have undermined planning’s strategic role had relegated it to a reactive, regulatory function in councils.
Published by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), the report concluded that austerity had created a ‘box-ticking culture that has closed off the space many planners traditionally used for reflection, professional discretion and proactive planning'.
The study said this made it harder to undertake the long-term strategic thinking and professional discretion that planners feel is needed to deliver the public interest.
RTPI chief executive Victoria Hills said: 'Local planning authorities have demonstrated exceptional resilience in the face of austerity by becoming more streamlined and efficient.
'While planners in Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland remain confident overall, planning in England does face some serious challenges.'
‘Places where authorities put planning at the heart of their corporate strategy are successful places to live, yet our research uncovers a prevailing sense that local authority planners face huge challenges to their ability to plan effectively in the public interest.'