Strategic Planning is the Way Forward

Apex Strategic Planning

A joined-up approach is needed to boost housebuilding and help economic growth, according to county council leaders…

County Councils Network

England’s county councils are calling for the government to bring back strategic planning in order to help the economy and boost house building.

The County Councils Network (CCN) has stated that strategic planning should be included in the forthcoming planning and infrastructure bill, being a key part of ensuring more homes, improving infrastructure and creating investment zones.

Strategic planning was scrapped in the 2010s, leading to a fragmented planning system, according to council leaders. They blame the chronic overcrowding of public services such as GP surgeries, and roads, on the fact that the creation of infrastructure has not kept up with the amount of development, which could be cured with the reintroduction of strategic planning, ensuring that county and district councils work together.

This would mean that county councils which take care of infrastructure, investment zones and transport, would work in collaboration with district councils, which make decisions about planning and housing.

If county councils had a statutory role in planning, it would allow local authorities to identify the best places within the county for housing developments and ensure that they are supported by enough health centres, schools and roads.

Planning Reforms

Planning reforms are currently included in the Levelling Up and Regeneration bill. However, in its latest Five Point Plan for County & Unity Councils, the CCN states that: “The Planning for the Future White Paper and the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill have been the main focus in recent years. However, our research has shown that just 20% of CCN members were confident that the proposals put forward in the Planning for the Future White Paper would achieve the aim of creating a simpler, faster and more modern planning system.”

Instead, it believes that planning reforms should be reconfigured to include strategic planning, and included in the upcoming Planning and Infrastructure Bill.

The CCN’s plan also states that county councils should have a statutory duty when it comes to contributions systems, so they would work with district and borough councils to set rates and contributions, allowing funds to be allocated to infrastructure projects.

Roger Gough, planning and infrastructure spokesperson for the County Councils Network, told the Planning Portal: “There has been far too much focus on headline house building numbers, rather than on planning as a whole, and on the infrastructure that is needed to make developments viable in the long-term.

“The County Councils Network has long argued for a collaborative model of strategic planning and form reforms to the developer contributions system. Taken together, these easily implementable reforms could yield significant results in creating better communities and unlocking development.”

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