Written evidence from Cumbria County Council
1.1 This paper has been prepared by Cumbria County
Council and includes views expressed by the Cumbria Planning Group.
1.2 The opportunity to contribute to the Inquiry
into the revocation and abolition of Regional Spatial Strategies
and the opportunity to inform the Government's thinking on the
emerging arrangements for spatial planning is welcomed.
1.3 In summary the main points raised are as
The opportunity for planning authorities to set housing
targets within the county is welcomed. There is an acknowledgment
in the county of the need to deliver more affordable housing to
meet local needs and provide balanced housing markets.
The nature of any incentives to encourage communities
to accept new housing development should recognise the housing
needs of the area and support its economic development. All new
development should satisfy established sustainable development
The merits of a planning system with a strong community
input is recognised. Any new arrangements should seek to utilise
existing strategies and partnership models wherever possible and
avoid duplicating existing strategies and processes. The existing
Cumbria Community Strategy contains the Cumbria Sub Regional Spatial
Strategy which sets out the broad spatial planning framework for
the county and provides a strategic framework for Local Development
Frameworks (LDFs) in Cumbria.
Future Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) should
provide a "challenging role" to the statutory planning
process but should not seek to replace it.
There are strategic challenges in Cumbria which require
a co-ordinated approach. There exists within Cumbria established
joint elected member and officer groups that cater for planning
and housing matters. These provide the basis for continued collaborative
It is important that the collection and monitoring
of data and evidence is continued at a strategic and local level.
Cumbria County Council has the potential to hold data and research
information for use at a Cumbria strategic level and to ensure
that it is made available in an accurate and consistent format.
2.1 Cumbria is a non-metropolitan county
in North West
England. Whilst Cumbria consists of one
upper tier authority, it comprises six districts,
the Lake District National Park and part of the Yorkshire Dales
2.2 By area, Cumbria is the second largest county
in England but less than 500,000 people live there (496,600,
Mid-Year Population Estimates, 2008, ONS)
and over 50% of these people live in rural communities.
2.3 Cumbria connects the North West of England
with the North East and Scotland, with road and rail networks
north, south and east. Cumbria enjoys a world class environment
and landscape, presenting unrivalled opportunities for tourism,
a highly motivated workforce, unique skills in nuclear technologies,
and a good quality of life (Cumbria Intelligence Observatory).
2.4 The challenge for Cumbria is to secure a
sustainable level and pattern of development that creates balanced
communities and meets needs including that of new jobs across
2.5 In Cumbria the planning and housing authorities
have a longstanding history of joint working demonstrated through
the creation of the Cumbria Planning Group and the Cumbria Housing
2.6 The Cumbria Planning Group is made up of
one Councillor from each of the six Districts, one from the County
Council and one Member of the Lake District National Park Authority
(LDNPA). Each elected member is supported by one officer. It seeks
to coordinate planning activities in Cumbria, including joint
initiatives and lobbying activities.
2.7 The Cumbria Housing Group is a forum to discuss
and coordinate housing activities in Cumbria on behalf of the
six Districts, the LDNPA and Cumbria County Council, plus representatives
of Registered Social Landlords and the housing development industry.
The Executive of the Cumbria Housing Group includes Local Authority
Member representation, which establishes the policy of the Group.
The Cumbria Housing Group prepared the Cumbria Housing Strategy
which is an overarching strategic document that provides a framework
for consistent policies and practices across the county. It has
identified 20 Housing Market Areas across Cumbria. The CHG (through
the Research and Information sub group) has published countywide
Strategic Housing Market Area Assessments (SHMAAs) for each local
authority in Cumbria, except Barrow in Furness whose SHMAA is
still under preparation.
2.8 The Cumbria Strategic Partnership (CSP) is
the countywide partnership in Cumbria which brings together partners
representing the public, private and third sector organisations
in Cumbria. It has a membership of over 50 orgainsations and is
responsible, on behalf of the County Council, for developing a
Sustainable Community Strategy and for developing and implementing
the Local Area Agreement. The existing Cumbria Community Strategy
contains the Cumbria Sub Regional Spatial Strategy which sets
out the broad spatial planning framework for the county.
2.9 The Cumbria Leaders' Board has recently been
formed to provide a strong coherent voice along with the leadership
and direction required to attract investment and enterprise in
Cumbria. This includes representation from the County Council
and six District Councils, Cumbria Association of Local Councils
and other major public bodies such as the Police, Health and LDNPA.
The Cumbria Leaders' Board has recently signed off and submitted
a bid for a Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership.
2.10 Another example of partnership working
within the county is the Lake District National Park Partnership
which is made up of representatives from the public, private,
community and voluntary sectors. The Partnership works together
to resolve potential areas of conflict and find solutions to further
the vision of the National Park.
3.1 The submission to the Inquiry sets out a
response on the basis of the terms of reference.
TOR 1: The implications of the abolition of regional
house building targets for levels of housing development
3.2 Without clearly defined targets there is
a danger that the necessary levels of housing development required
will not be achieved to meet identified housing needs. Hence the
ability to set housing targets within the county is essential.
There is already an established Cumbria Housing Group which has
led the production of SHMAAs. This was undertaken collaboratively
with the planning and housing authorities within the county and
allowed needs to be identified within Housing Market Areas (HMAs).
We see the co-operative approach to evidence preparation having
value in any future planning process, as it allows strategic themes
to emerge and cross border issues to be resolved.
3.3 To deliver the significant levels of housing
development required there is a need to resolve conflicts within
individual settlements and communities. If there is no strategic
target the time taken to resolve these differences as well as
those of specialist interests could be significant and may well
delay the construction of the units needed to meet established
housing requirements including affordable and extra care housing.
In some cases this could have an adverse socio-economic affect
on the area as a whole. It is recognised that the likelihood of
this occurring in the county maybe limited at present, as the
Cumbrian planning authorities were generally supportive of the
housing targets set within the revoked North West RSS, although
these figures remain to be incorporated in around half of the
Local Development Frameworks (LDFs) in the county.
3.4 The merits of a planning system with a strong
community input is recognised and indeed there is an acknowledgment
already in the county of the need to deliver more affordable housing
to meet local needs.
TOR2: The likely effectiveness of the Government's
plan to incentivise local communities to accept new housing development
and the nature and level of the incentives which will need to
be put in place to ensure an adequate long term supply of housing
3.5 We refer to the response above. In order
to encourage communities to accept the provision of new housing
development a number of aspects need to be clearly put in place:
A needs assessment to establish the levels of housing
development required at a strategic and local level;
Housing requirement targets set by the planning authority
area which have been derived from the needs assessment and endorsed
by the responsible local authorities;
Clear incentives to the housing market and RSLs to
provide that housing requirement; and
Community empowerment to bring forward land for development.
3.6 The nature of these incentives should target
the housing needs of the area and support its future economic
development. We would support the approach taken in PPS 3 which
allows for needs to be met where there is not a five year supply
but seeks to ensure that all housing developments satisfy sustainable
3.7 As no clear fiscal mechanisms to incentivise
local communities to accept new housing development have been
set it is difficult to comment at this stage. However, it is suggested
that there is a significant challenge to address the potential
differing views of communities, in terms of agreeing the location
and scale of housing development. It is important to note that
Cumbria contains a wealth of protected landscapes and areas designated
for their importance in terms of biodiversity and historic significance
which adds further to the consideration of the appropriate scale
3.8 The incentives should also deal with enabling
infrastructure for housing development which relates to whole
settlements as well as to individual developments. In particular
there are issues which relate to highway and transport and utility
infrastructure in some of Cumbria's main settlements which could
potentially limited levels of housing development and economic
growth. There needs to be a clear co-ordination of infrastructure
requirements and an appreciation that there needs to be a shared
contribution from developers and/or investment from public bodies
responsible for that community infrastructure. There is currently
a significant reliance on gap funding in the county.
TOR 3: What arrangements should be put in place
to ensure appropriate cooperation between local planning authorities
on matters formally covered by Regional Spatial Strategies?
3.9 The Cumbria authorities (including Cumbria
County Council, the LDNPA and the District Councils) have been
active in the regional planning process. The provisions of the
Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 and PPS 11 provide advice
with regard to the preparation, review and monitoring of the NW
RSS. The County Council as a Section 4(4) authority has specific
responsibility to engage in that strategic planning process. In
reality this input was usually undertaken on a collaborative basis.
3.10 There is potential for the Cumbria authorities
to continue to work collaboratively in the new arrangements. As
explained above there are established joint elected member and
officer groups that cater for planning and housing matters ie
the Cumbria Planning Group and the Cumbria Housing Group.
3.11 The Cumbria Leaders Board has recently signed
off and submitted a bid for a Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership.
It is also the intention of the Cumbria Strategic Partnership
to produce a single countywide community strategy.
3.12 The existing Cumbria Community Strategy
contains the Cumbria's Sub Regional Spatial Strategy which sets
out the broad spatial planning framework for the county. This
enables actions that affect specific areas and locations to achieve
the delivery of the Community Strategy and provides a strategic
framework for Local Development Frameworks (LDFs) in Cumbria.
It is of note that of the eight core strategies to be produced
within the county, four have been found sound and there is considerable
process being made with a number of other development plan documents.
3.13 It is the view of Cumbria Planning Group
that any new arrangements should seek to utilise existing strategies
and partnership models wherever possible and avoid increasing
and duplicating strategies and process. The Cumbria Planning Group
appreciates the value of joint working and cooperation in responding
to strategic planning matters. It sees continued opportunities
for shared working on spatial planning matters. Such models for
partnership can greatly assist the "Localism" agenda
and provide efficiency savings for public sector budgets.
3.14 The County Council is seen as playing an
important role in the co-ordination of strategic planning matters
including infrastructure provision and specialist advice in respect
of landscape, heritage and biodiversity matters; renewable and
low carbon energy, minerals and waste management.
TOR 4: The adequacy of proposals already put forward
by the Government, including a proposed duty to co-operate and
the suggestion that Local Enterprise Partnerships may fulfil a
3.15 The proposal to place a duty to co-operate
upon local authorities is welcomed. As explained previously the
Cumbrian planning and housing authorities have a longstanding
history of joint working demonstrated through the creation of
the Cumbria Planning Group and the Cumbria Housing Group.
3.16 The Cumbria partners have also submitted
a proposal for a Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership. The proposal
advocates that the planning process should enable business and
communities to address their needs and meet Cumbria's enterprise
aspirations. Fundamental to this is encouraging sustainable economic
growth whilst protecting the county's valuable landscape and ecological
and heritage features. This includes both the creation of vibrant
settlements, business premises, effective infrastructure and housing.
3.17 It is considered that delivering sufficient
housing of the right type in the right location to meet current
and future needs of the community is essential for our economic
competitiveness and aspiration, as is the creation of mixed and
sustainable communities. Crucially, this includes tackling the
significant issues of affordable housing and areas of housing
market renewal. Identifying opportunities for regeneration and
enhancement of the physical environment will be key.
3.18 The priorities of the Cumbria LEP will be
Provide evidence for and champion the economy's current
and future needs to be delivered through the planning process,
in terms of housing, business and community infrastructure;
Promote coordination of the work of the Local Planning
Authorities in delivering a coherent, focussed and enabling environment
Support action to address the issue of affordable
housing for local people and key workers;
Use its network of influence to facilitate constructive
and positive relationships between Local Planning Authorities
and potential developers/business, enabling appropriate developments
which are in line with our agreed priorities;
Identify within our prospectus coordinated development
opportunities around housing, industrial and commercial sites,
retail, cultural industry and the low carbon economy;
Seek improvement to the county's supporting infrastructure
for sustainable economic growth and community wellbeing;
Promote and facilitate the opportunities around public/private
partnerships as a delivery mechanism for key development projects;
Advocate the benefits of low carbon technologies
and high quality design solution in championing of new investment
strategies and development schemes.
3.19 The Cumbria Planning Group endorses the
Cumbria LEP proposal. The Cumbria Planning Group expresses the
view that LEPs should not be seeking to set up a new governance
structure to become an alternative planning body but that the
LEP should "challenge" the statutory planning process
to assist delivery.
3.20 It is noted that the North West Leaders
Board has established a new Transition Planning Board to look
at the role of planning in the context of post regional arrangements,
TOR 5: How should data and research collected
by the now abolished Regional Local Authority Leaders' Board be
made available to local authorities, and what arrangements be
put in place to ensure effective updating of that research and
collection of further research on matters crossing local authority
3.21 The collection and monitoring of data and
evidence is invaluable to policy making and managing projects
at a strategic and local level. There is value in retaining the
data and evidence collected for the preparation of the North West
region's Regional Strategy and the Regional Spatial Strategy as
well as the information collected in relation to monitoring the
performance of the strategies and policies of these documents.
As much of the data is available on the Regional Planning Board,
(4NW's) website it is important that this website is maintained
and publicly available.
3.22 In recognition of the above, Cumbria County
Council has the potential to hold data and research information
for use at a Cumbria strategic level and to ensure that it is
made available in an accurate and consistent format. However the
maintenance and updating of that data and research information
would have resource implication for the County Council.
3.23 It is recognised that the collection of
data and evidence relating to cross-boundary issues is invaluable
and would greatly assist all Cumbrian partners. There are partnership
models already in place to facilitate the pursuance of agreed
objectives. For example the Cumbria Intelligence Observatory is
already established and has built upon invaluable Cumbria time
series data gathered over many years. A Cumbria-wide Local Economic
Assessment is currently being prepared, drawing on these data
sources. There is scope to widen its remit to incorporate spatial
planning data and evidence. This would be an invaluable tool to
support regeneration and development activity in Cumbria and to
provide evidence to prioritise the key interventions necessary.
N.B. Documents are attached with this submission
for consideration by the Inquiry. These are referred to in the
submission statement as examples of good practice. They include:
CSP's Cumbria Community Strategy:
The page provides a link to the Cumbria Sub Regional Spatial Strategy:
Cumbria Housing Strategy:
Strategic Housing Market Area Assessments: