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TCPA responds to Armitt Review: 'England's future hangs in the balance'

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TCPA responds to Armitt Review: 'England's future hangs in the balance'

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Published by Yvette Ralston for TCPA in Central Government and also in Environment, Housing, Local Government

In a response to Sir John Armitt’s independent Review into long term infrastructure planning in the UK, leading housing and planning charity, the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA), has warned that England’s future hangs in the balance and that the nation desperately needs a strategic framework to guide infrastructure investment.

Kate Henderson, TCPA Chief Executive said:

“England is alone in North West Europe in having no national or sub-national spatial planning approach to the major challenges that face us as a nation, including housing, climate change and rebalancing the economy.”

“A planning system which is truly fit for purpose must offer a strong narrative of strategic spatial policy, from national through sub-national and city-regional to local and neighbourhood levels. This is simply because the challenges we are confronted with in infrastructure investment, housing, climate change and social inclusion are played out at differing spatial scales. A position where there is no linkage between high-level national policy and localised planning strategies is neither practical nor in the best interest of the sustainable development of the nation.”

In responding to the Armitt Review the TCPA highlights that integrating the differing spatial challenges into a coherent framework would help guide investment and decision-making in all sectors and that this is not about simplistic top-down imposition. The Association has sent the Review a recent report called, The Lie of the Land!,’  which throws up a series of questions which urgently need addressing – principally the capacity of the government, as currently organised, to cope with the environmental, economic and social challenges facing the country.

The Lie of the Land!’ warns that it is a matter of concern that England – unlike Scotland, and Wales – has no government department, or agency, charged with addressing acute strategic, or ‘spatial’, problems across the country. For instance, the threat of climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing England and has major implications for food production, with the greatest proportion of top grade agriculture land located in the south and east of the country.

Kate Henderson added:

“We need to deal efficiently with the governance of any new strategic body. Public legitimacy has been the key stumbling block of all previous attempts at regional or national infrastructure planning. Creating structures without proper democratic and procedural rights' will fail to deliver cross party support.”

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