Hannah David, director of Planning Futures, joins Alice Lester MBE, Head of Planning at Brent Council and Jamie McKie, Dentons Planning and Public Law Team, to discuss the challenges local planning authorities face in finding skilled planners
For a planning system to run effectively we need skilled planners in every area of the country. Local authorities are under pressure to deliver an increased level of housing completions whilst ensuring our town and cities are developed sustainably. These challenged require a skilled workforce that is proving more and more difficult to source. What are the reason for this shortage in skilled planners and what can be done about it?
Are there enough resources in planning departments to deliver the scale of housing delivery that we need? Alice Lester suggests that even when financial considerations are taken out of the equation, there simply aren’t enough planners out there to fill positions:
Viability skills and Environmental skills are the biggest gap for me
In terms of resources, there has been a lobbying campaign by developers to increase the fees they pay for planning applications so that planning authorities have the resources to get applications through the planning process quicker.
The prevailing opinion on the panel is that the primary cause of under resourced planning departments is the inability to secure sufficiently quality staff to process applications in a timely manner, delaying housing delivery across the country.
But what about the planners that do work at local authorities, do they have the skills needed for a modern planning system?
Placemaking … it seems to be a skill that is lacking, or not at the forefront in officer training
What do you think? How can local authorities attract the talent they need to fulfil their duty to provide increased housing deliveries within the time limits set by government. Is it simply a question of proper financing through fee’s or are there fundamental issues with the way current planners are trained?
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