On 19th-20th September 2013 a Working Group comprised of London-based spatial planners presented to the 10th Biennial of European Towns and Town Planners in Lisbon. Focussing on the city without public economic funds, they set out a British approach to ‘Bridging the Funding Gap: Urban Regeneration in Age of Austerity’. The report presented was the product of a series of virtual workshops held since 2013 with counterpart groups across Europe and coordinated by the umbrella organisation for spatial planning institutes in Europe, the European Council of Spatial Planners – Conseil Européen des Urbanistes (ETCP-CEU).
The UK Working Group was drawn from a range of professional private and public sector planning backgrounds, reflecting the diversity of the planning and development industry. The purpose was to consider opportunities for planning policy instruments of different European cities/regions to respond to the current climate of austerity.
The Group discussed the various approaches to austerity, including opportunities to create and capture value through the planning system under the themes of betterment, business, bureaucracy, community and cooperation. Their stark conclusion was that whilst the management of public sector monies should be financially prudent, austerity cuts were plugging a sinking ship at best. They therefore called for a rational and evidence-based approach to sit at the heart of Government spending with a need to recognise the importance of regeneration to addressing the spatial impacts of recession.
The Group’s contribution was well received. Richard Blyth, Head of RTPI Planning Policy Practice and Research ‘was struck by its clarity and punch’, noting them to be “a great credit to the UK and to the RTPI”. The UK Group Report will be published alongside those of the other European countries as a definitive collection in Winter 2013.