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The Value Toolkit can join up policy planning with project design

Victoria Hills
Victoria Hills 29-06-2022

Victoria Hills is Chief Executive of the Royal Town Planning Institute. She says the Value Toolkit can play an important part in the planning process. It’s all in the timing.

The Value Toolkit provides an opportunity to join up land use policy planning with project design at a much earlier stage than perhaps has happened in the past. It offers a significant chance to break down the silos between the construction industry, project design and engineering and achieve a far more systems-based approach with planning.

When developing an outline business case, and putting in values-based assumptions, we can ensure that aspects within a local plan policy are part of the project design process. This will generate a much more integrated and efficient approach to project delivery, ensuring better outcomes than if planning had served as an afterthought once a project had been designed.

The construction sector needs to move towards more value-based decision making because it is being asked to look at things differently. Climate change, in particular, poses challenges for us all, and the government is recognising the need to assign greater value to the environment, society and governance. The Toolkit provides an opportunity for us to look at how we value things differently and disrupt the former value model so we can now deliver against these broader societal outcomes.

The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) was involved in the Value Toolkit right from the start: as a strategic advisor, an observer, and a critical friend. Whilst not involved in some of the technical delivery of the final product that we see before us today, it has been important for planners to be able to have a say in the design of the Toolkit and for the RTPI to be able to share intelligence about it with members. We want our members to be aware of the value that the Toolkit can add to their work and to the wider construction sector.

The RTPI’s role in delivery better social and environmental outcomes is very much part of our basis for being. We’re now 107 years old, we’re a charity, a professional institute, and a learning society. We exist to better the art and science of town planning and to deliver better societal outcomes. We have a public purpose. That makes us quite unusual as an institute because we are not a trade body – we have these broader outcomes. That means our members, who are largely in the public and the private sector as well as some independents, have that as their reason for being. Everything they do is about delivering better outcomes.

The RTPI’s role is about harnessing the power of our 27,000 members and ensuring they’re working in a broader systems approach across the built environment sector. It’s not just planners working on planning. It’s planners working with engineers, construction, architects, and surveyors across the whole piece.

There’s a real opportunity here to bring the convening power of the planners to work a bit more upstream with some of those people involved in commissioning these large projects to ensure we’re all on the same sheet.