Written evidence from Kilbride Four Ashes
In response to your enquiry into the abolition of
the Regional Spatial Strategies (RSS), Kilbride would like to
make a number of points that reflect wide spread concerns about
the impact on economic development.
Kilbride Four Ashes LLP is promoting a Strategic
Rail Freight Interchange (SRFI) at Four Ashes in South Staffordshire
through the planning system, which will address clear demand established
through the West Midlands Regional Freight Study.
The development of a large 60 hectare plus intermodal
rail freight facility and associated warehousing will have a clear
benefit on the local and regional economy and will make a significant
impact on removing lorry movements from the roads, by helping
retailers and manufacturers to switch more freight onto rail.
The benefits of these type of projects to the national
economy have been recognised in the Planning Act 2008, which introduced
SRFI's as a category of nationally significant infrastructure
in setting up the Infrastructure Planning Commission structure
The subsequent changes to the IPC have not altered
this view of the importance of nationally significant infrastructure,
but the removal of RSS processes will remove a method of establishing
the location for such large scale developments and will therefore
impact adversely on the ability of such projects to be delivered.
By way of example, the West Midlands RSS specifically recognised,
through Policy PA9, the need for Regional Logistics Sites. The
policy identified potential locations and priorities, and established
a set of criteria together with a mechanism for assessing and
bringing forward suitable sites. This policy framework has now
By their nature, nationally significant infrastructure
projects are large in scale and are therefore rarely supported
by the immediate local community or planning authority. In the
absence of any regional planning system the Secretary of State
is likely to give considerable weight to the Local Planning Authority
view of the proposed development, providing opportunities to block
development but no process to allow for proper promotion that
reflects the regional/sub regional level.
The abolition of the RSS will also remove the mechanism
for delivering strategic planning policy when neighbouring planning
authorities disagree over where regional and sub regional development
needs to be located. Such disagreements are not unusual when urban
areas lack suitable locations for strategic infrastructure and
adjoining rural authorities are reluctant to accommodate sub regional
or regional requirements. Yet these types of project are vital
to regional economic development.
Kilbride propose in the wake of abolition of the
RSS structure, that space is still found in the planning system
to allow strategic planning processes to be developed, and would
recommend that the Local Enterprise Partnerships and Local Authorities
have an obligation to take into account clearly identified regional
economic development and infrastructure requirements. Where several
LEPs are being promoted to cover a large conurbation and its hinterland,
as is the case in the West Midlands, then that obligation must
extend to all the relevant LEPs and Local Authorities within the
catchment of a strategic proposal to ensure identified national
and regional infrastructure needs are met.