Northern Powerhouse lacks joined-up planning

A new report has warned that 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.

Ambitions for the North, published by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), says that the ‘fragmented and under-resourced planning of the North’ must be addressed head on.

The report, launched in Leeds, says that several government departments, Transport for the North, NP11, combined authorities and other bodies have made significant progress in driving forward the Northern Powerhouse, but claims that 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.

The report calls for prevailing Northern Powerhouse concerns about economic growth and infrastructure to encompass inequalities within the North, high street decline and neglected towns, public health, and the quality of life of all its citizens. Distinctive northern assets such as heritage in town centres and national parks and Areas of Outstanding Beauty should also be better used and integrated with the overall spatial vision.

The RTPI recommends 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, as well as a single platform of open data to facilitate better collaborative planning.

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.”

Sarah Longlands, director IPPR North, said: “IPPR North are delighted to have worked with the RTPI to establish a blueprint for a Great North Plan because we know that planning is vital to putting people and places at the heart of the North’s ambitions. This next stage in the development of a Great North Plan is welcome and it’s important that we continue to keep the power of planning at the top of the policy agenda.”

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