A strong and well-resourced planning system is essential if the government is to achieve its ambitions for a ‘green industrial revolution’, the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) has said.
Responding to the prime minister’s announcement of a 10-point plan to tackle climate change and create more jobs, the RTPI said that only by investing in local authority planning teams would a localised framework be established to ensure investment is properly integrated into the built and natural environment.
The RTPI’s response comes ahead of the imminent publication of its report on net-zero transport which will look at the contribution of spatial planning to transport decarbonisation in different types of place, as well as address barriers to implementation.
Chief executive Victoria Hills warned that a place-based approach to transport decarbonisation was essential if the government’s aims of increased renewable energy and an acceleration in the transition to electric vehicles are to be delivered successfully.
She said: “We welcome the move to bring forward the switch to electric vehicles from 2035 to 2030 but in order to do this successfully we need to first look at a shift to more sustainable behaviours by reducing overall travel demand and increasing the use of sustainable travel.
“The RTPI’s forthcoming report on place-based solutions to net-zero carbon transport will consider a variety of potential options such as increasing density, restricting car use, promoting mixed development and mobility hubs, and creating integrated active and public transport networks.
“As our progress towards net zero carbon reshapes the built environment, it is only with effective spatial planning that we can ensure that benefits are maximised and that the transition is just, leaving no one behind.”
Regarding the plans to make homes, schools and hospitals ‘greener, warmer and more energy efficient’, the RTPI stressed that the retrofit of existing buildings, largely unaddressed to date, would be a major challenge. The RTPI said it would like to see a national retrofit strategy which includes measures to support the private rental sector and a stronger regulatory framework, with powers and resources for local authorities.
The RTPI reaffirmed its commitment to Green Growth Boards (GGBs), which it says are essential to deliver joined-up strategies for not only climate action, but also infrastructure, housing provision, health and nature recovery. GGBs were an integral part of the RTPI’s response to the Planning for the Future white paper.
The RTPI also repeated its call for extra resources for each local authority to deliver the equivalent of one FTE planner to work exclusively on climate proofing policy and development management.