£1 mn boost for planning authorities to create better neighbourhoods

Social enterprise Public Practice will use new funds to help place private sector executives into government roles

by Staff writer 18 March 2023

More skilled planning professionals will be recruited by councils following a £1 million funding boost from the government, the Housing Minister announced on Monday.

Social enterprise Public Practice will use the money to help councils recruit and develop skilled planners, increase awareness about careers in local government and share best practice around improving communities in the public sector.

The money will help councils attract and develop those in the profession leading to higher skilled jobs, speed up property development and create better neighbourhoods that people are proud to call home.

Minister for Housing and Planning Rachel Maclean said: “Planning plays such an important role in shaping our neighbourhoods, making sure we have the right housing and infrastructure to level up the nation.

“It is essential that our planning authorities have the skills and resources they need and today’s funding will make sure the sector is better equipped to deliver a quality service for local communities.”

Pooja Agrawal, CEO of Public Practice, said: “Planning and placemaking is one of local government’s most important functions as it shapes the places we all live in, work and visit.

“However, it is clear that local authorities have substantial skills gaps which hinders the ability of developers and councils to deliver good quality new and refurbished homes, sustainable public spaces or accessible town centres and high streets. Now is not the time to rest on our laurels but to re-double our efforts.”

The government recently published a consultation on increases to planning fees to generate additional income for councils to help deliver and improve planning services, making sure communities have the right infrastructure.

This is alongside a wider programme of support and investment in high quality data and digital technology to reduce the administrative burdens on local planning authorities and support faster more efficient decision-making.

Public Practice has attracted more than 2,500 applications to its placement programme over the past five years, 92 percent of whom have been working outside the public sector. Some 73 percent of applicants have never worked in the public sector and 53 percent have never previously applied for a job in the public sector.

Nine-tenths of Public Practice Associates have chosen to continue working in the public sector following the conclusion of the year-long programme. 

The not-for-profit social enterprise has a mission to rebuild skills and capacity in the public sector to help improve places and communities across England.

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