Groundbreaking scheme places new generation of planners in local government

logoThe first intake of innovative new social enterprise Public Practice meet the Mayor of London.17 outstanding Associates selected from over 200 applicants begin year-long placements across London and the wider South East to deliver affordable homes and inclusive places.

Public Practice writes:

The first cohort of a pioneering programme to boost the capacity of planning departments has been announced today by the Mayor of London during a site visit to the East Croydon Masterplan area.  The Associates are working in strategic roles to deliver better-designed and more inclusive places, and supporting more proactive planning to tackle the housing crisis.

Public Practice was founded last year to help address a lack of public sector planning capacity, recognised as the primary barrier to delivering the quantity and quality of homes the country needs. Local authorities are using the first cohort to bring in design expertise at a time when almost half of all councils have no in house design capacity.

The call for applications for the first cohort was thirteen times oversubscribed, with candidates from a diverse range of ages and backgrounds, including planning, urbanism, architecture, conservation, digital innovation, and surveying. Of the Associates that made it through a rigorous and highly competitive selection process, 71 per cent are women, and 24 per cent are BAME.

Associates have been matched with roles in some of the most forward-thinking and ambitious Authorities in and around London. Placements range from setting up councilled housebuilding programmes to shaping masterplans for new gardens towns. Together, the first cohort is forecast to unlock or improve 17,000 homes, create or improve 19,000 sqm of public realm, accelerate the delivery of £26m of public infrastructure and engage over 3,400 people in planning over the next year.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said: ‘In order to deliver the well-designed housing and public spaces our capital needs, it’s vital our local authorities benefit from fresh talent to boost their skills and capacity. The new draft London Plan puts good design principles at its heart, and highlights the importance of ensuring new developments maintain the capital’s special character and are accessible to all Londoners. By empowering councils to take this approach in their planning, we can help ensure continued good growth for London while also providing our city’s planners with a fantastic opportunity to make a real difference to local areas.’

Public Practice is a key initiative of Sadiq Khan’s Good Growth by Design programme, and links to the Mayor’s wider strategies and priorities to tackle the housing crisis and to deliver good growth in the capital. It is specifically referred to in the draft London Housing Strategy and will help to deliver the policies set out in the draft London Plan, including around design-led densification.

Jo Negrini, Chief Executive of Croydon Council, said: ‘We are delighted to be hosting Akil Scafe-Smith, one of the first cohort of Public Practice Associates, here in Croydon. A bold, confident and properly resourced public sector is vital to successfully accommodating the homes and jobs that we need, protecting the places that our communities cherish, investing in our infrastructure and creating new and improved public spaces and facilities. Schemes like Public Practice are critical to ensuring that we attract new talent to work in the public sector; helping shape the workforce that we need shape the places of the future’

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