Planning for Growth: The Role of Local Enterprise Partnerships in England Final report

Lee Pugalis, Alan Townsend, Nick Gray, Ania Ankowska

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report


This report provides the first comprehensive analysis of the planning roles of Local Enterprise Partnerships, including a detailed analysis of their Strategic Economic Plans. Since 2010, the administration of planning and economic development, as well as other activities, at the regional scale has been usurped by a ‘localist’ philosophy. This raised concerns, especially from a strategic planning perspective, of a ‘planning vacuum’ which left unfilled could result in impediments to growth and sustainable development. In place of regional planning, the Coalition Government introduced a new policy innovation intended to encourage enterprise and stimulate private sectorled economic prosperity – that of Local Enterprise Partnerships (or LEPs). The 39 LEPs vary considerably in different parts of England, and the local growth landscape has coevolved, becoming more complex and congested in the five years since 2010. The Coalition Government initially outlined several planning roles that LEPs could perform, and have required Strategic Economic Plans (SEPs) from each partnership as part of a process of negotiating Growth Deals. As a result, as noted in this report, the role of LEPs in planning is increasing over time, in both geographical and institutional ways. Moreover, some LEPs are operating as strategic actors alongside others in the complex field of sub-national development, which represents an evolution from the original conception of LEPs as the primary strategic actors in sub-national development. This report is based on research for the RTPI led by Lee Pugalis of Northumbria University and Alan Townsend of Durham University with research assistance from Nick Gray and Ania Ankowska of Northumbria University, funded through the RTPI’s Small Projects Impact Research (SPIRe) scheme. The interim report from this project examined the role of LEPs in relation to the statutory planning system, as well as considering the potential of alternative strategic planning mechanisms. It analysed the historical position and development trajectory of LEPs in a way that has informed this final report from the project. This report provides fresh empirical evidence of LEPs’ engagement with the planning system, deployment of various planning instruments and their anticipated planning-related functions during their next phase of evolution.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherRoyal Town Planning Institute
Commissioning bodyRoyal Town Planning Institute
Number of pages54
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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