Leith Planning

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Leith Planning's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Leith Planning is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles


Executive Chairman
Chris Plenderleith
Leith Planning is a boutique
town planning consultancy
Executive Chairman Chris Plenderleith heads up the Leith
Planning Group, a boutique town planning consultancy with
offices in Lancashire and London that operates internationally.
Having worked in the sector for over 30 years, Chris knows that
politics plays a major role in the planning process and that uncertainty
is a fact of life. He believes, however, that its effects could be
reduced were government to adopt a more agile approach. For this
to succeed, there are three major practical questions to answer and
five distinct issues to address. Chris gives his response and discusses
what he feels could be done differently in Westminster.
Across our projects, both on a national and international stage, we have worked
with key thought leaders and innovative organisations. These have included
Lord Patel of Bradford, Lord Hunt and Lord Best alongside the Building Research
Establishment, Breaking Barriers Innovations and DragonGate.
We believe it is the role of government to harness the benefits of change and
mitigate the harm. In doing so, it would be well served by taking a few cues from
business. Management in politics can often seem to be weighed down in part by
unnecessary red tape and bureaucracy; adopting systems which are streamlined
and agile is a positive move that saves time and taxpayer money.
Three key questions
These are:
»How does government flourish in an increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex and
ambiguous world?
»Executive Chairman:
»Founded in 1992
»Based in Kirkham, Lancashire
with offices in London
»Services: Boutique town
planning consultancy
»No. of employees: 15,
including the board
»The group is also supported
by a number of strategic
partners, including investment
partners, construction
companies and various sector
Leith Planning
Highlighting best practice
»How is the government breaking
barriers in responding to this
»And what can leaders at every
level do to create an energised,
prosperous and meaningful society?
So how can these three questions be
Stephen Denning, in his book
Age of Agile, How Smart Companies
Are Transforming the Way Work Gets
Today, organisations are
connecting everyone and
everything, everywhere, all of
the time. They are becoming
capable of delivering instant,
intimate, frictionless value on a
large scale. They are creating a
world in which people, insights,
and money interact quickly,
easily, and cheaply. For some,
the revolution is uplifting and
beautiful. For others, it is dark
and threatening.”
Agility is not a word often used in
relation to government; there are,
however, organisations that are clearly
leading the way in delivering a social
agenda with collaboration and agility.
With regard to breaking barriers,
our work with BBI has been
illuminating. We see the pivotal role
that good leadership plays in making
collaborative action a reality.
It is worth mentioning the work of NHS
West Lancashire CCG on the Digmoor
Estate in Skelmersdale, where the NHS
are looking to develop a strategy for
housing – on the basis that a good
warm home is the best preventative
measure for keeping people out of
hospital in the first place.
Government hasn’t been structured in
a way to make it easy for one sector,
healthcare for example, to have a say in
housing, even though challenges such
as these are clearly interdependent.
Funding will always be a constraint, but
agile management in the public sector,
if based on collaboration, can make
best use of the available resources.
Five huge issues
For 2019 and beyond, there are five huge
issues facing government. These are:
»Maintaining influence internationally
»Sustaining economic growth
»Responding to inequality, including
regional disparity
»Planning effectively for the welfare
of an ageing population
»Dramatically boosting housebuilding
so that all generations have access to
good-quality homes
Earlier in the year, the
Financial Times
interviewed eight foreign secretaries
past and present, asking their views
on the future of the country. Lord
Palmerston, a great 19th- century
statesman and foreign secretary for
15 years, said of the nation’s foreign
policy: “We have no eternal allies and
we have no perpetual enemies. Our
interests are eternal and perpetual.”
Jeremy Hunt also said that “the trick is
not to overestimate our strength, but
not underestimate it either.”
The Leith planning team
We have
worked with
key thought
leaders and
In the absence of a big majority, I
believe cross-party collaboration is
necessary if we are to have a confident
presence on an international stage.
We are not necessarily a superpower,
but we can certainly punch above our
weight as a mid-tier nation alongside
Japan, Canada, Australia, France
When it comes to dealing with these
issues and consequently taking our
place on the global stage, we need
the capacity to transcend party-
political dogma, promote the welfare
of the nation and work hard to
Economic growth, for example, can
only be delivered by generating
confidence – be that confidence
in government or management.
We must also, however, challenge
bureaucracy and promote initiative and
imagination, supported by inclusive
policies which promote equality.
These recognise what is perhaps the
only way to foster peace and equality:
showing respect. Those who have
accepted the call to serve in government
and those with influence need to model
themselves after some of the world’s
greatest “healing”politicians.
Additionally, if policy on housing
and health is to be effective, it must
start with the aspirations of local
stakeholders, thereby facilitating
a constructive alternative to “silo
bureaucracy”. This would promote
collaboration between organisations
delivering services and recognise
that housing and healthcare remain
cornerstones of wellbeing in the UK.
With regard to housebuilding, an
ideal planning system would facilitate
the development of innovative
solutions to existing and future
challenges. Additionally, it should
include reincarnation of tried and
tested solutions, such as new towns
It must also, however, promote
collaboration between local authorities
and housing associations to provide
an attractive alternative to private
renting. We are currently working with
the Local Government Association
on opportunities for strengthened
collaboration between local and
combined authorities on housing
Leading the charge – what
next for Leith Planning?
Our work with the Building Research
Establishment on dementia housing
is a prime example of how best
organisations can both innovate and
inform government. Early adopters of
innovation are clearly the key when it
comes to facilitating necessary change.
It has been a good year for Leith
Planning and our stakeholders,
clients and strategic partners;
it is surprising what “agile and
inclusive” management can achieve
when combined with meaningful
collaboration. Perhaps we could pave
a way to secure the country’s future
together if government were to take
some cues from industry in this regard.
We believe it is
the role of
government to
harness the
benefits of
change and
mitigate the
The Leith Planning
Group’s head offices


This article was sponsored by Leith Planning. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Michael Gove.

Rt Hon Michael Gove's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Michael Gove

This year's Parliamentary Review comes at a momentous time for parliament, as we collectively determine the destiny of the United Kingdom. 

On October 31, the UK will leave the European Union. The successful implementation of this process is this government's number-one priority.

Three years after a historic referendum vote, we will deliver on the decisive mandate from the British people. Trust in our democracy depends on it. Until that final hour, we will work determinedly and diligently to negotiate a deal, one that abolishes the backstop and upholds the warm and close relationship we share with our friends, allies and neighbours in the EU. But in the event that the EU refuses to meet us at the table, we must be prepared to leave without a deal.

As the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, it is my job to lead on this government's approach, should that scenario happen. Preparing for Brexit is my department's driving mission. But while I am leading this turbocharged effort, the whole of government is committed to this endeavour.

Ministers across Whitehall are working together to ensure that every possibility is considered, every plan is scrutinised and every provision is made. A daily drumbeat of meetings means that we are holding departments accountable, so that preparations are completed on time.

The chancellor has confirmed that all necessary funding will be made available. And we have mobilised thecivil service, assigning 15,000 of our most talented civil servants to manage our exit from the EU.

We will make sure that on November 1, there is as little disruption to national life as possible. Our trade relationships will continue to thrive, thanks to agreements with countries around the world worth £70 billion. Our country will remain secure, thanks to nearly 1,000 new officers posted at our borders. And the 3.2 million EU nationals now living and working among us can remain confident, with absolute certainty, of their right to remain in the UK.

Above all, our goal is to be transparent. Soon, we will launch a public information campaign so that citizens, communities and businesses are ready and reassured about what will happen in the event of “no deal”.

In my first few weeks in this role, I have travelled to ports and tarmacs, borders and bridges, all across the UK –from the seaside of Dover to the rolling green hills of County Armagh. I have heard from business owners and border officials, farmers and hauliers. They are ready to put an end to uncertainty. And they are ready to embrace the opportunities ahead.

Our departure from the EU will be a once in a lifetime chance to chart a new course for the United Kingdom. Preparing for that new course will be a herculean effort. But this country has made astounding efforts before. We can do it again.
Rt Hon Michael Gove
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster