Head of expanding planning consultancy offers views on regional housing picture
- Credit: Carl Willimott
With the nation's house-building agenda in the spotlight, an East Anglian planning expert has emphasised the importance of 'good development' – marrying homes to appropriate infrastructure – in new projects.
Planning consultants Lanpro have been at the forefront at major regional projects including the Deal Ground development in Trowse near Norwich and the north east Chelmsford urban extension.
The Norwich-based firm has recently opened its first three branch offices – including one in Colchester – and increased its workforce by 30%.
It is also helping shape the region's development priorities, with a representative in the New Anglia LEP's Building Growth group.
Following the release of the government's housing white paper, Lanpro managing director Chris Leeming has said he believes a more holistic approach to development is needed in the region. He said: 'The industry definition of town planning is managing the competing demands for use of space.
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'Good development should include everything that is required for a place to function properly – transport, education, employment opportunities, provision of health and social care services. That moves from planning to something called 'place making'.
'Unfortunately today's agenda is all about delivering houses, which is a shame. The developer should be contributing towards the area they are building.'
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Mr Leeming said he felt two main aims in the housing white paper – more public engagement in the planning process and to make development happen faster – were 'fundamentally incompatible'.
'Planning is a technical science. You should start with problems like transport provision and local school capacity and come to a technical conclusion,' he said.
After increasing its total workforce to 26, Lanpro is now ranked among the UK's top 50 employers of chartered town planners.
Mr Leeming said he hopes the Colchester branch will 'replicate' the services currently offered at the company's Pottergate headquarters, adding that it was also considering acquiring a Suffolk office.
Its other new offices, in Retford and York, will focus on archaeological and heritage work.