Northern Powerhouse lacks joined-up planning, RTPI warns

Thursday May 30th, 2019

Planning needs to be more joined up across the North to bring growth and prosperity not only to major metropolitan areas but also neglected towns and communities, a new report says.Government Opportunities

“Ambitions for the North”, launched by the RTPI on 30 May in Leeds with a keynote speech by Lord Heseltine, warned that the current “fragmented and under-resourced planning of the North” must be addressed head on.

Several government departments, Transport for the North, NP11, combined authorities and other bodies have together made significant progress in driving forward the Northern Powerhouse.

But the report says their individual plans need to be knitted together into a coherent whole that would direct development and regeneration strategically to break with unsustainable patterns of land use, road-based housing development and city-oriented investment and help to rebalance the North.

An overarching spatial vision for the North
It calls for an overarching spatial vision for the whole of the North of England, supported by strategies similar to the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework for each functional area.

These would allow the North to respond better to social, economic and climatic changes and address the needs of settlements outside the influence of HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail, such as coastal towns and deep rural areas.

This kind of pan-North collaborative planning is essential for understanding the impact of major investment and development on people and the environment, and for communities’ views to be taken into account before decisions are made, it says.

Ian Tant, President of the RTPI, said: “At a time when the North looks set to receive unprecedented levels of investment, we must think hard about how to capitalise on this to ensure that change benefits everyone over the long term. Entrenched ways of delivering housing and infrastructure through silo working will only repeat mistakes of the past.

“This is the moment to reinvest in good planning – from the most local level to strategically across boundaries – to create not only a prosperous North but greener, healthier, more inclusive and sustainable places that people proudly call home.”

Key recommendations

  • A strategic review of housing in the North with which provides an alternative to the government’s numbers-driven “standard methodology” and aligns more closely with the North’s growth strategy
  • A Ports, Logistics, Airports and Industrial Strategy for the North
  • An overarching spatial vision for the North of England built around sustainable modes of transport, supported by spatial strategies for each functional area similar to the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework
  • Spatial plans for National Parks and AoNBs with the same status as the above plans and integrated with them
  • A single platform of open data to facilitate better collaborative planning

The report has been undertaken by Peter Brett Associates and the University of Newcastle, on behalf of the RTPI.

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