Finn Williams has provided oral evidence on planning and design skills at the National Policy for the Built Environment Select Committee on behalf of POS and NOVUS.
Firstly, built environment practice varies significantly from authority to authority, in relation to different financial, structural, political and geographic conditions. There are examples of excellent practice, as well as areas of practice that need to be addressed. It is therefore difficult to make generalisations about local authority skills and capacity, and unlikely that there is any single solution that will work for all authorities.
Secondly, whether local authorities have adequate skills and resources depends on the role we expect local authorities to have in planning, shaping and managing the built environment. The pressure on local authority budgets means that planning departments are increasingly retrenching to focus resources on statutory or fee-paying services. As a result our approach to the built environment is becoming more reactive. Reactive planning creates longer-term costs from missed opportunities.
This paper proposes that "to consider the built environment in a holistic manner" we need to build the public sector's capacity for proactive planning.