While I welcome the efforts made to attract new people to the planning sector, it is crucial we also address the more pressing issues with the planning system – namely, the strain on planning departments has resulted in insufficient resources and unmanageable workloads that are exacerbating the housing crisis

Cutbacks over many years have led to a dearth of experienced planning officers who play a vital role in pushing applications forward and providing invaluable guidance to local authorities. The Institute for Fiscal Studies thinktank has calculated that local authority net spending per person on planning dropped by as much as 59% between 2009-10 and 2020-21, higher than any other service.

Meanwhile, much-needed new affordable housing projects are taking as long as two years to go through planning, according to some of the providers I work with, and more than a million people in England are currently on local authority waiting lists for social housing. It is imperative we turn this around by ensuring planning departments have the capacity to support their communities’ needs.

A diverse range of planning professionals is certainly important when it comes to driving the understanding that local areas need to thrive in order to survive, with a range of tenures and a cross section of people, income streams, political views and age groups that will spend money on different things and in different ways.

But while initiatives like bursaries to attract new individuals to the planning sector are commendable, they should be accompanied by reforms that tackle the systemic issues plaguing the delivery of affordable housing. Investment in well-funded planning departments, stable leadership in government and a diverse range of professionals are going to be imperative for resolving the housing crisis and fostering thriving communities.

Jonathan Pearson, director, Residentially