Written evidence from the Norfolk County
Council and Norfolk County Strategic Services (ARSS 91)|
1.1 The call for evidence was sent out in early
August and will focus on the implications for house building but
will also consider;
the arrangements which should be put in place to
ensure appropriate cooperation between local planning authorities
on matters formerly covered by RSS (eg waste, minerals, flooding,
natural environment, renewable energy etc);
the adequacy of proposals already put forward by
the Government, including a proposed duty to cooperate and the
suggestion that LEPs may fulfil a planning function; and
how the data and research collated by the former
Regional Bodies should be made available to local authorities
and what arrangements should be put in place to update and collect
further research on matters crossing local authority boundaries.
1.2 This response proposes that there is merit
in ensuring a strengthened role for Counties who are well placed
to assist in filling the gap left by the abolition of RSS yet
still fit the localism agenda.
2. EVIDENCE ON
2.1 Norfolk County Council is already responsible
for transport, waste, minerals, surface water flooding and flood
risk management and is working in partnerships to deliver strategies
and plans for these aspects of spatial planning in Norfolk.
2.2 Spatial planning requires a much broader
approach than just land use planning, including understanding
and developing policy for the economy, linking job growth with
housing growth and ensuring appropriate infrastructure provision.
2.3 Through partnership working the Council can
bring a larger than local perspective on strategic issues, such
as major infrastructure, and help embed this in more local plan-making.
Infrastructure and service providers need a larger than local
picture to plan for their investment. Norfolk County Council has
been helping to provide this through the Norfolk County Strategic
Partnership (NCSP) by joining up existing core strategy proposals
to form a strategic framework for Norfolk setting out the scale
and location of the significant growth proposals.
3.1 The Norfolk County Strategic Partnership
in 2008 set up the Norfolk Strategic Services Co-ordinating Group
to provide the strategic framework for growth in Norfolk. By bringing
the key service providers together (including police, health,
education, social services, housing, planning, transport, water,
electricity) the group has become a strong lobbying voice for
infrastructure requirements in the county. The group has engaged
with EDF energy in its energy networks consultation and held a
focused workshop to get an understanding of the funding issues.
EDF representatives attend the group and receive shared growth
and services information. In turn the company has asked for a
county officer to be a contact for further consultations. This
is important because there are significant gaps in power transmission
networks and capacity issues in the county and it is hindering
job growth in several areas.
3.2 There are also significant issues for water
supply and disposal associated with growth. A workshop on water
issues was also held involving representatives from the lead agencies,
Anglian Water and private developers to get a fuller understanding
of the issues and funding implications. These initiatives have
been welcomed by district planning officers as they add weight
to the ability to raise issues and influence outcomes on wider
than local issues.
3.3 NHS Norfolk has also been kept informed of
Local development Framework (LDF) consultations across the county
and joint service mapping has proved useful.
4. LONGER TERM
4.1 We have concern that the proposed localism
agenda described so far does not take account of the need for
investors and service providers to access the wider long term
picture for growth in order to plan for long term investment.
Although the regulated services such as water and power companies
cannot commit to funding for schemes that are regarded as speculative
almost until the certainty of a planning permission is provided,
they do have longer term plans for which they need a longer term
joined up growth strategy.
4.2 For the immediate future Local authorities
in Norfolk are continuing to plan for housing to meet the existing
RSS targets, as these reflect previous local assessment of need.
It is likely that with the near collapse of the housing market,
it will take some years to reach the required levels of house
building. In the longer term they will need to review plans and
will need a sound evidence base for doing so. For the past thirty
years or so this has been provided by some form of strategic planning
process. Whatever decisions are taken locally, plans need to be
informed by population, housing and job forecasts which can only
be done reliably at a larger than local level.
4.3 Norfolk produces regular demographic projections
and information, monitors development of both housing and jobs
across the county and produces annual monitoring statements for
the county. This is important to understand whether the required
jobs and housing are being delivered and districts can see how
others are doing on a consistent basis. The county also has the
expertise to understand and engage in the modelling of job and
housing forecasts. Such demographic and forecasting skills are
not available in individual districts and it would be costly to
buy them in.
4.4. Norfolk's Economic Development and Strategy
Group also took the lead in producing the Local Economic Assessment
(LEA) which provides a shared understanding of local economic
challenges and what needs to be done to address them. Much of
the data in the LEA is relevant to planning. Norfolk CC is well
placed to update and collect further research across local authority
boundaries in supporting district councils in the development
of their LDFs.
5. LOCAL ENTERPRISE
5.1 Recent advice on forming Local Enterprise
Partnerships (LEPs) suggests that they will 'want to create the
right environment for business and growth in their areas by tackling
issues such as planning and housing, local transport and infrastructure
priorities, employment, and enterprise and the transition to the
low carbon economy'. This suggests a similar approach to that
outlined in this note. However it is not at all clear that everywhere
would have an LEP and a strategic spatial framework requires whole
area coverage so it will only provide an approach where LEPs are
5.2 It is suggested that in the short term, under
the duty to cooperate, all local authorities agree the joined
up picture provided by existing or emerging Core Strategies which
can be used to inform the LEP if there is one or the economic
strategy. Such non-statutory frameworks would hold little weight
in spatial planning terms but could inform inward investment and
infrastructure decisions and funding bids.
5.3 The Open Source Green Paper stated that a
specific role for county and unitary authorities would be to compile
infrastructure plans. Whether or not this is done under the LEP,
it is a sensible suggestion and is supported by much of this evidence.
6. DUTY TO
6.1 There has been little information about what
the 'duty to cooperate' means except a line in the Green Paper
saying it would enable "a sensible conversation between all
those involved in shaping neighbourhoods and the landscape".
The intention may be that this is to be interpreted at the very
local neighbourhood level but it is essential to understand that
cooperation at a strategic and sub-regional level is vital in
delivering major infrastructure and services for all communities.
This will be important for future working in two tier areas and
the following example shows how partnership working even on an
informal basis has been successful in delivering the Greater Norwich
7.1 In October 2006 the Greater Norwich Development
Partnership comprising Broadland District Council, Norwich City
Council, South Norfolk Council, Norfolk County Council and the
Broads Authority, was created to provide a mechanism for planning
and managing the large scale growth required for the area. The
shared need to meet ambitious local housing and job targets has
made cross-boundary co-operation essential.
7.2 The main work of the partnership has been
to produce two key strategy documents; the Joint Core Strategy
(JCS) and the Greater Norwich Economic Strategy (GNES).
7.3 The JCS, which was submitted in March 2010,
is the fulfilment of the Local Development Framework responsibilities
of three of the five partners (Broadland, Norwich City, South
Norfolk). One of the first joint strategies of its kind in the
country, it is aligned with the pre-existing core strategy for
the Broads Authority and is intended to meet the strategic challenges
for the period 2008 and 2026. The GNES for 2009-14 focuses on
"jobs, homes, prosperity for local people".
7.4 In parallel with the preparation of the JCS
and the GNES, the first phase of the partnership, a number of
projects to support the achievement of the strategic goals have
been delivered. A total of 17 projects, with an annual spend in
the last year of just over two million pounds are now being implemented.
7.5 Quote from the Audit Commission Report on
"The partnership consistently combines the
contributions of each of the partners in ways that add value.
Despite seeming like a necessary alliance to deliver local growth,
the partnership was no easy coalition, with a legacy of disputes
between each and all of the local authorities. That both strategies
and projects are being delivered between the partners is a testament
to the political will of all partners to make the arrangements
work. Bringing the Broads Authority into the partnership has ensured
that the focus on key green infrastructural challenges, especially
water, has remained sharp. All this has resulted in a partnership
that is generally seen, even by critics, as a necessary and positive
contribution to the future of the area."
7.6 There is also strong partnership working
in the other Growth Points in Norfolk, for King's Lynn and Thetford
and for the regeneration areas of Great Yarmouth. The County Council's
input has been essential to ensure coordinated delivery of transport
and community services such as schools and libraries. This is
particularly important where significant growth is proposed in
settlements which are located in the same corridor but are in
different districts. The planning of new secondary schools to
serve growth is a good example of where the County's ability to
look across boundaries is vital. A duty to cooperate which reinforces
sub-regional partnership working would be supported.