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There have been persistent calls for planning to address its reputation as a ‘barrier’ to change, and become more ‘collaborative’ and ‘pro-active’. The Farrell Review suggests planning officers should be partners in place-making, and the system reformed to make it less adversarial; Novus, the ‘radical’ planning outfit launched at last year’s Planning Officers Society, encourages planners to act more like leaders – taking charge, for example, of housing delivery. David Rudlin, who won the Wolfson prize last year with his Uxcester proposals, sees the planning system as fundamentally sclerotic and incapable of allowing our cities to respond to the enormous pressures for growth and adaptation created by irresistible macro-economic and demographic shifts. How should planners respond? 
 
For one thing, the public sector needs to become more activist. The housing crisis is an example of market failure; private sector developers sit on land with planning consent and drip feed housing into the market to guarantee the highest prices; construction companies fail to attract and train up enough staff to build the houses the country needs. These are just some of the reasons why the market has failed to respond to the massive demand for housing. In addition, those attempts government has made involve intervening on the demand side, for example Help-to-Buy. The perverse effect of this, according to some, has been to play into the business models of the volume house-building companies, leading to price increases, rather than a faster pace of delivery. 
 
Moreover, during the recession, in a gesture of Keynesian economics, but also fearful that house-building would stall and the big house-builders themselves might fail, the Government, through the Kick Start scheme, in effect bailed them out.  But this refusal to let them fail has created a moral hazard, blunting the market’s capacity to punish mistakes and frustrating the ‘creative destruction’ the market relies on to renew itself. This has prevented other, more entrepreneurial players from entering the market. 
 
So far, therefore, government has been complicit in allowing the circumstances that lie at the root of the crisis in housing in the UK to endure. 
 
Despite this, it is the responsibility of the public sector to solve a market failure, particularly one on such a scale. Plan Projects has encouraged our own local authority clients to acquire a ‘developer mindset,’ commissioning housing themselves directly. This sets the tone for a new breed of planning professionals who are encouraged to be more entrepreneurial; taking direct action to improve the circumstances of the communities they serve. One way of doing this, as some Labour Party figures have suggested, would be to set up a financial institution dedicated to enabling the public sector to borrow the money needed to invest in a new generation of council owned properties as well as lift the borrowing limits on local authorities themselves. 
 
Another major trend that won’t go away and to which planners must respond is neighbourhood planning.  Power has been transferred and a large number of people have, in effect, become amateur planners; those in the profession need to be able to work with these people in partnership, providing a culture of governance, rather than government, with ‘top down’ working with ‘bottom up’ to achieve a community centric form of planning where people and communities are treated with respect and seen as capable of making their own decisions, if given the appropriate support.  
 
This is part of a broader picture. In the digital age, the mantle of ‘professional’ has become ever more insecure as open source planning and community empowerment through social media and crowd funding puts ordinary people increasingly in the driving seat. To retain their relevance, planners must learn new skills to do with community engagement, collaborative planning and design. 
 
This capacity for adaptation, teamwork, creative thought and leadership is the hall mark of the successful entrepreneurs, and one which the profession should increasingly exhibit if it is to succeed in shaping our cities anew to face the challenges of the modern world. 

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