Headlines: February 6th, 2007

REPORT CALLS FOR NEW LOOK AT ROLE OF PLANNERS

 

A consortium of building and planning stakeholders is calling today for a major revaluation of the planning profession. A new report, “Future Planners: Propositions for the next age of planning”, recommends greater democratic accountability over planning priorities.

The report is based on research by the think tank Demos and the Campaign to Protect Rural England and includes input from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, English Partnerships, and the Royal Town Planning Institute. It argues that what it describes as “old-fashioned notions of private and public value” have left planners with the job of managing the competing demands of economic growth and environmental sustainability. The authors say that to succeed and thrive, planning professionals need to bridge that gap, using resources from both the private and public sectors, local communities and NGOs to plan areas and neighbourhoods that can flourish while, at the same time, the environment can be protected. This would create places that people can care for and enjoy.

It calls on planners to consider the needs of people who work, play and visit places as well as taking into account the interests of local residents. They also need, the report says, to plan for the global as well as local environmental impacts of new development. Peter Bradwell, a Demos researcher and one of the authors of the report, said planners had to cope with people who wanted mobile phones but hated mobile phone masts and who worried increasingly about global warming but frequently objected to climate-friendly wind turbines proposed near their homes. The report argues that these competing demands will only be met through planners becoming champions of the public value of place and mediating between contrasting interests. One proposal is the use of citizen juries in controversial planning decisions, with members drawn from a national pool to avoid ‘NIMBYism’.

The report, which will be launched later today by Kate Barker who produced the recent review of land use and planning, has been welcomed by the Deputy Mayor of London, Nicky Gavron, who says it is an important piece of work from a range of diverse authoritative organisations. “Planners have a key role in addressing our most pressing social needs, from climate change to affordable housing. We have to get communities, developers, and environmentalists together to agree how to move to a sustainable future,” she said.