Investment in People, Skills and Technology
To implement the proposed new planning system outlined in the Government's 'Planning for the Future' White Paper, it is recognised that there is a need to invest in the people implementing it, 'that local planning departments need to have the right people with the right skills, as well as the necessary resources, to implement these reforms successfully.'
Greater us of technology is promoted to facilitate accessible, shared data nationwide which can be easily updated. There will be a shift towards engaging more effectively with communities using digital neighbourhood groups and social networks. The Government recognise the need to invest in the technology which is currently not capable of meeting digitalisation objectives. It is suggested this could be achieved through enabling the PropTech sector to introduce innovative products that operate with other systems.
Planning professionals will be required to be more 'outward looking, taking the lead on engaging with developers, business, architects and designers, as well as a winder cross-section of their local communities.' A new performance framework could be introduced across the planning process.
Local planning authorities could be subjected to a new 'performance framework' to promote continuous improvement across all planning functions including Local Plans, decision-making and Enforcement.
In addition, the Planning Inspectorate and statutory consultees will be required to change the way they operate and be more responsive and outward looking. Extra skills and resources may be necessary to undertake their roles within the proposed new planning system. The Planning Inspectorate and statutory consultees could be required to be more self-financing through new charging mechanisms and be subject to new performance targets.
It is anticipated that the proposed new planning system will significantly reduce the risk of judicial reviews. The Government expect their plans for an overhaul of planning law 'to create simple and clear processes and for plans that set our clear requirements and standards will substantially remove the scope for ambiguity and therefore challenge'.
Helen Winkler, Senior Planning Consultant, Tyler Parkes