Leading housing and planning charity, the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) has launched a report in Parliament today (Thursday 24th October 2013) arguing that planning has become increasingly disconnected from peoples' lives because it no longer deals with the issues people care about.

The year-long research project, 'Planning out Poverty', supported by the Webb Memorial Trust, has been focused on how planning can better secure greater social equity.

Kate Henderson, co-author and TCPA Chief Executive said:

"We need a profound reconsideration of the social purpose of planning. This reconsideration must be framed by the undoubted capacity of planning decisions to impact on social exclusion, for better or worse – for example by creating easy access to work and recreation opportunities."

The Planning out Poverty project illustrates strong evidence that planning could play a much more positive role by fully integrating (within both local and national public policy) with sectors such as regeneration and health and by reconnecting with issues that matter to local people. In an era of economic austerity, welfare reform and the residualisation of planning's remit to deal with neighbourhood issues, it is more important than ever that planning can deal with specific issues such as poverty reduction as well as in the wider public interest.

Kate Henderson added:

"The reinvention of 'social town planning', which has been effectively residualised for 30 years, requires a re-visioning of planning within wider social policy, rather than being left within a legislative cul de sac. At the same time, this requires planners to be much more concerned with professional values and ethics."

Dr Hugh Ellis, co-author of the report and TCPA Chief Planner, said:

"The debate about the future of planning has become a largely sterile discussion of the merits of continued deregulation. No attention is being paid to the positive potential of spatial planning to provide solutions to many aspects of our most difficult public policy problems.

"Good planning can offer greater opportunities for excluded communities, both at a national level, in shaping investment patterns, and at a local level, by getting the right outcomes from planning decisions."

Nigel Lee, formerly Chief Planner for Liverpool City Council, said:

"Planning has simply lost its way, and it's time for planners to start really making a difference to peoples' lives."

The report is based on the study and analysis of four communities who are seeking a pathway to regeneration. They were selected for their diverse socio-economic backgrounds, distinct patterns of social exclusion and different urban spatial scales:

– Anfield, Liverpool – an inner-city Victorian community;

– Shirebrook in the Derbyshire Coalfields – an ex-industrial rural town;

– Middleton and Belle Isle, Leeds – part of a major inter-war social housing development based on Garden City principles; and

– Tottenham Hale, London Borough of Haringey – a diverse inner-city community.

Models of the skyscrapers planned for the City of London and Southwark-11 May 2008 (PD)'Planning out Poverty' makes 12 recommendations designed to reflect the project's ambition to embed recognition of the importance of social issues within planning practice. The recommendations are addressed to national and local government as well as the private sector and the planning community and include:

Recommendations for national government:

– Recommendation 1: Make changes to the National Planning Policy Framework to prioritise poverty reduction.

– Recommendation 2: Introduce new legal duties on poverty reduction.

– Recommendation 3: Change the National Planning Practice Guidance to include guidance on poverty reduction and the promotion of social justice.

– Recommendation 4: Enhance planning powers for local communities.

– Recommendation 5: Target neighbourhood planning support in areas of social exclusion.

– Recommendation 6: Review the impact of welfare, housing and planning reform on poverty reduction.

– Recommendation 7: Introduce a new form of placed-based area planning.

Recommendations for local government

– Recommendation 8: Integrate planning with local placed-based service delivery, including through 'single integrated departments'.

– Recommendation 9: Share and promote local government led best practice.

Recommendations for the private sector:

– Recommendation 10: Encourage greater corporate social responsibility.

Recommendations for the planning community.

– Recommendation 11: Develop a 'new vision' for the planning profession.

– Recommendation 12: Enhance skills and education.

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