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Town Planners Need to Consider Climate Change

Posting date: 23 May 2019
Elliot Miles our consultant managing the role

Town Planners - Ahead of Government

Town planners may need to consider climate change concerns in the future. Could you set yourself apart from other candidates for town planning jobs by forward-thinking on this possibility?

Planning Practice Guidance for Viability - Work in Progress

On May 9th, 2019, the UK government published its latest updates to the Planning Practice Guidance for Viability (PPGV). Rather than a complete overhaul, the revisions amount to fine-tuning. There are some small changes and additions to items such as monitoring and reporting of developer contributions. Among the main changes in the PPGV are:

  • A tightening in the definition of Existing Use Values
  • The requirement for meaningful engagement between neighbourhood planners and industry is strengthened
  • New guidance on how viability for education should be addressed
  • Clarification that development must comply with up-to-date plans

The alterations that have been made confirm that the PPGV is a work in progress, with more revisions likely next year. Could the next round of revisions include climate change mitigation in neighbourhood planning?

Why PPGV Might Include Climate Change Considerations

Unless you are an ostrich with your head buried in the sand, you will have noticed the recent ratcheting of concern about climate change.

Antony Storey, Planning recruitment consultant

From the warnings of Sir David Attenborough to the protests of Extinction Rebellion in London and schoolchildren striking around the world, climate change has been given unprecedented publicity. At one point, it looked likely to overshadow even Brexit as the number one news item. Recently, reports have highlighted the growing concern that climate change is causing in political circles as well as among the public. These include:
  • A report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which forecast that the world has only 12 years to sort out the problem, or face climate catastrophe
  • Parliament announcing a climate change emergency on 1st May 2019
  • A recommendation by the Committee on Climate Change that the UK aims for full carbon neutrality by 2050 (with one of the proposed measures being to make gas central heating and the gas boiler a thing of the past in residential property)
The Council of Councils (28 of the world’s leading think tanks) placing climate change at the top of its global priorities in its annual Report Card, published on 8th May 2019

Jeremy Wright, Planning Recruitment Director, London

With UK politicians of all colours under threat because of their incompetent handling of Brexit, it is likely that they will grab at any opportunity to win back votes. Not only is climate change an important issue, it is also becoming a popular one. Therefore, neighbourhood planners should be prepared for the government to add climate change as a factor in the PPGV.

Industry Bodies Taking Climate Change More Seriously

In their joint report Rising to the Climate Crisis, the RTPI and the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) make a strong case for local authorities to adopt climate change mitigation policies. The report also sets out an agenda to include local plans to be carbon audited.

Town planners have an opportunity to take the lead in developing carbon neutral communities. Should town planners be planning now for a carbon neutral environment, rather than undertaking spatial planning without considering the climate change threat?

The government has set out climate change resolutions, as have dozens of local authorities across the nation. But the good work that is being done – the practical stuff that will help to make a difference – is uncoordinated and ad-hoc. 

Town Planner Recruitment Expert Elliot Miles

There is currently no legislation mandating that neighbourhood planning must consider climate change concerns. It looks increasingly likely that the government will add legislation to planning laws and guidance, including further revising of the PPGV, to ensure that town planners rise to the challenge of combating climate change when working with developers, landowners, institutes and others.To date, there has been little political will to tackle climate change head on. 

It could be that public demand will crank up the political will. The rules are changing. Climate change is a real thing. Town planners who show diligence and respect for climate change in the context of their work are likely to be ahead of the competition for Town Planner jobs.

Do you want to know more about what town planners really want from their next role? Contact Macdonald & Company today.

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