Councils must improve technology planning to prevent “tech ghettos”

Local authorities need to improve planning to prevent certain areas from becoming “tech ghettos” that exacerbate social inequality, according to the Royal Town Planning Institute.

In its report Planning for the growth of technology and advanced manufacturing, it said the presence of technology and advanced manufacturing sectors can lead to economic segregation because the benefits can remain concentrated in certain areas.

With better planning, the social benefits can be shared throughout the city or region.

It said that while the Planning Obligations and Community Infrastructure Levy has helped, it does not go far enough. Citing Dublin’s Commissioner for Startups as an example, the RPTI said councils should appoint a chief technology officer to act as the main industry contact.

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Richard Blyth, RTPI’s head of policy, said: “City planners are uniquely placed to mediate and bring together the conditions that are attractive to technology and [advanced manufacturing] firms, such as highly skilled employees who prefer a more social lifestyle and proximity to workplace, broadband connectivity, good transport and physical compactness.”

It recommended that local authorities should: train the local community to meet the needs of the tech sector; collaborate with tech and advanced manufacturing firms in urban regeneration projects; and use firms’ particular skills and resources to address cities’ infrastructural challenges.

Blyth added that industry and local authorities must also consider how to tackle problems such as inflated prices, displacement of local residents and accelerating gap between the rich and poor that an exponential development of these sectors may bring.

“Again, planning has a crucial role in ensuring that growth is sustainable and benefits more people in the long run.”

Colin Marrs

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