Abolition of Regional Spatial Strategies: a planning vacuum? - Communities and Local Government Committee Contents

1  Introduction

1. We launched an inquiry in the summer of 2010, soon after the Secretary of State announced the immediate revocation and intended abolition of Regional Spatial Strategies (RSSs). Our terms of reference focussed on: the implications of the abolition of regional house building targets for levels of housing development; the likely effectiveness of the Government's plan to encourage local communities to accept new housing development by the use of financial incentives; and the level of the incentives that will be needed to ensure an adequate long-term supply of housing. We also considered the arrangements that should be put in place to ensure appropriate co-operation between local planning authorities on matters formerly covered by RSSs, such as waste, minerals and flooding, as well as housing. We asked how the data and research previously collated by the Regional Local Authority Leaders' Boards should be made available to local authorities and how that research would be updated.

2. As well as receiving written evidence, we held four oral evidence sessions, and invited witnesses from: the planning sector; community and environmental groups concerned with planning; the housing industry and organisations; local authorities; and representatives and Ministers from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG). We thank our specialist advisers, Richard Bate and Kelvin MacDonald.[1]

3. One of our witnesses commented:

Having taken 30 years to build up the strategic planning system, and perhaps 3 years to prepare each Regional Plan, it has taken literally 3 months to abandon the whole process and create a situation of complete paralysis in the planning system.[2]

This Report considers to what extent views like these are justified. It describes the role that Regional Spatial Strategies played, and the views submitted on their effectiveness. We study the new planning system, with the role of strategic planning, local authorities' 'duty to co-operate', the new Local Enterprise Partnerships and how the new system will deal with controversial strategic planning issues. We concentrate on the removal of housing targets and how the housebuilding incentive scheme, the New Homes Bonus, will work, in particular in encouraging local authorities to invest in the building of housing, including affordable housing.

1   Richard Bate declared the following interests: providing independent professional reports once each by the South East England Regional Assembly (on construction aggregates requirements, 2008) and by the West Midlands Regional Assembly (on housing requirements, 2009); involved in the procedures of regional plan preparation in five regions on behalf of various clients; user of the plans, data, analyses and monitoring reports provided in association with Regional Spatial Strategies.

Kelvin MacDonald declared the following interests: Consultant adviser on Policy and Partnerships for the Royal Town Planning Institute; Senior Visiting Fellow at the Department of Land Economy, Cambridge University; a Registered Commissioner on the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC); a member of the Enabling Panel for the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE); and a member of the Board of Trustees of Shelter. Back

2   Ev 105 Back

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