22nd February 2006

 

CONFERENCE TO TACKLE PLANNING PROBLEMS

 

Planning chiefs from across the East Midlands will be at the University of Lincoln tomorrow (Thursday) for a conference aimed at improving the planning process.

 

Baroness Kay Andrews, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Housing and Planning, will give the keynote speech at the ‘Progress Towards the Planning Renaissance’ conference.

 

Hosted by the university’s Vice Chancellor, Professor David Chiddick, the event will bring together chairs and vice chairs of planning committees from all over the region.

 

The conference will address the difficulties in filling vacancies for qualified planning staff and will encourage elected members to get involved in the challenges faced by planning officers and make the changes needed to adopt better working practices.

 

The East Midlands has 46 local planning authorities, the majority of which are small councils. About half have reported difficulties in recruiting qualified planning staff and in some cases this is affecting authorities’ ability to make faster planning decisions.

 

Government Office East Midlands (GOEM) has been working closely with partners including the University of Lincoln, the Planning Advisory Service and the East Midlands Local Government Association to tackle these problems.

 

The conference will begin in lecture theatre ARM201 in the Lincoln School of Architecture building at 10am tomorrow (Thursday 23rd February).

 

After a welcome by Professor Chiddick Baroness Andrews will give her keynote speech on the importance of members and officers working together to deliver a

first-class planning service.

 

Other speakers will include Sarah Richards, Head of the Planning Advisory Service,  Professor Peter Roberts, OBE, Chair of the Academy for Sustainable Communities,  Andrew Turner, Chief Executive of Regeneration East Midlands, Eamon Mythen from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and Sam Maher of the East Midlands Local Government Association.

 

Baroness Andrews will be welcomed to the university by Professor David Chiddick at 9.05am and there will be an opportunity for photographs and interviews from 9.20am until 9.40am in the Alstom Atrium, main academic building, Brayford Pool campus.

 

Progress Towards the Planning Renaissance

University of Lincoln

23rd February 2006

 

Key messages:

 

  • An effective planning system is at the heart of the government’s aim to create sustainable communities. Well made, timely planning decisions contribute to sustainable development and help to deliver a built environment which raises the quality of people's lives.

 

  • Conversely, a planning system that is slow and cumbersome and fails to demand high-quality design, stifles growth and disadvantages local people both economically and socially.

 

  • The good news is that many local authorities throughout England are raising their game on planning, helped by the ODPM's Planning Delivery Grant and direct support from the Planning Advisory Service.

 

  • But there are still too many councils who take too long to make planning decisions, or who are prepared to accept mediocre design. This situation must improve.

 

  • Central government wants to work with local authorities to help the poorer performers to improve. But because the goal of an excellent planning system is so important, government is prepared to be tough on councils who fail to tackle under-performance in this area. Poor planning performance is now a key factor in the Audit Commission's CPA assessment of councils' overall performance. Government will withhold Planning Delivery Grant and name and shame those authorities who fail to respond positively.

 

  • But it is important to be clear: this is not just about doing things more quickly. It is about changing planning culture to ensure things are done differently and better; it is about setting a clear policy context.

 

  • Improvement depends on everyone from local councillors to chief executives and planning officers providing strong leadership, securing the resources and the skills to deliver and ensuring a well managed process.

 

For more information contact:

Jez Ashberry, Press and Media Relations Manager

01522 886042                         jashberry@lincoln.ac.uk

or Elizabeth Leonard, Government News Network

01159 712780