Laura Sharman 13 July 2015

LEPs need clearer planning role finds study

The role Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) can play in devolution and promoting economic growth is being hindered by a lack of staff and a clear focus, a new study has found.

New analysis from the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) has revealed that while LEPs have ‘considerable’ potential to work across different policy areas, they are being held back by a lack of firm institutional foundations.

The research also found that nearly every LEP was understaffed - especially in the area of strategic planning – and there is widespread uncertainty over their planning role.

‘If LEPs are to seize these opportunities our study shows there is a clear need to formalise their status in the planning system and their relationship with local authorities,’ said Richard Blyth, head of policy and research at the RTPI.

‘They need to find more ways to work more closely with local authorities on a range of strategic planning issues. Central government could encourage this through future rounds of the City/Growth Deal process, by seeking and rewarding a greater integration between LEPs economic strategies and the housing provision in local plans.’

The research found that more than half of LEPs intend to align or pool local authority growth funding, particularly in relation to housing, transport, economic development, regeneration, planning and infrastructure.

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