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Good planning guidelines help investment

New case studies published by the Planning Advisory Service (PAS) at the Improvement and Development Agency (IDeA) looked at six very different areas.

North Norfolk Council governs a part of the east Anglian coast that is vulnerable to erosion. While the council had been promoting the idea of ‘rollback’ – where development in this threatened zone is relocated further inland – it wasn’t until the Council adopted  its planning document –  the core strategy – that it was able to put this new approach to coastal management into practice.

It’s not just planners that welcome a core strategy. Developers and utility providers value the certainty.

Kiaran Roughan, at Reading Council, says:

“Developers are considering investing in the town centre because the core strategy says that it’s the place to invest.”

Reading’s core strategy also allocates a part of south Reading – which previously was dominated by low-value uses, such as a dump – as a main area of regeneration. Since adopting the strategy, the council has granted permission for a number of new uses, such as private hospitals and hotels. In Roughan’s view, the core strategy has created an interest in that area, which is still ongoing.

In Hampshire, SCA Recycling, a specialist paper recovery company, wanted to submit an application to develop a large recycling facility at a business park at Hounsdown near Southampton despite opposition from existing business tenants and the district council. But the clear planning framework set out in the minerals and waste core strategy gave it the confidence to proceed.

South Tyneside, like most places, has seen a drop-off in new development because of the recession. But planners there have observed that in the areas where they have a full set of adopted plans in place (core strategy and an area action plan), developers and partners have continued to show an interest.

Andrew Dobson, Head of Planning Services at Lancaster City Council, also believes that the emphasis on delivery has produced a different – and better – strategy compared with a revision to the old plan.

He points to the way that an authority can now deal with housing projections. Previously, an LPA was given a new housing figure and told to implement it. If a local community objected, it wasn’t always possible to explain to them why they needed to accept the increased development, since it wasn’t spatially informed. Under the new system, planners can put forward a spatial justification for the location of new development. So, for example, it becomes easier for people to understand a new housing allocation if it meets demonstrated local housing need.

At Wakefield Council, planners have realised that the adopted strategy is forcing landowners and developers to adjust their thinking about how to work within a clear spatial framework. Ian Thomson, Service Director for Planning and Property at the council, says:

“The better informed agents, who understand the process, are now coming forward with constructive comments and discussions about how land might be parcelled and how land owners can work together. It is focusing the discussion on some meaningful options.”

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