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Paper 9 - 24 July 1998 Meeting 

ASSOCIATION OF HAMPSHIRE AND ISLE OF WIGHT LOCAL AUTHORITIES

24 July 1998

LGA PLANNING COMMITTEE

Report back by Councillor Tony Ludlow, East Hampshire District Council

The planning committee met on 26th July. Among other items they reviewed their policy priorities for 1997/98 and considered priorities for 1998/99.

REVIEW OF PLANNING COMMITTEE POLICY PRIORITIES FOR 1997/98

The four main priority areas for the year had been: Regional Planning, Household Growth, Short and Long-term Changes to the Planning System, and Good Planning Practice.

1. Regional Planning

The LGA submitted a response to the DETR consultation paper on Regional Planning Guidance jointly with the Planning Officers' Society. In broad terms the response welcomed the commitment to devolving decision-making to the regional level. However, it also stressed areas where the consultation paper could be strengthened.

In terms of future work, the LGA stressed the need to look at regional planning in the context of other changes at the regional level so that coordination between bodies could be achieved. The question of whether or not to move towards statutory based regional planning will also need to be addressed.

2. Household growth

The Household Growth Task Group has almost completed its final report. In addition, the LGA provided evidence to the House of Commons Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Committee's Housing Enquiry. The Government's White Paper 'Planning for the Communities of the Future' was welcomed for the emphasis it placed on the role of the regions in identifying local needs and its `bottom-up approach'. The emphasis of work on housing growth has now shifted towards implementation and the question of what mechanisms are needed at local level make the regional planning emphasis of the White paper work; and what are the mechanisms needed to bring more previously used (brown-field) sites into housing use. Both questions have been addressed by the Household Growth Task Group and are being pursued with other bodies.

3. Changes to planning policy

Long-term changes

The Planning Policy Task Group has identified priority areas for long term changes to the planning system: National Planning Guidance, Regional Strategic Planning, Development Plans, Planning obligations, Planning and sustainability, Public involvement, Development control and enforcement, and Quality. Separate reports on these are given in the LGA Planning Committee Agenda for 26th June 1998.

Short-term changes

a) Telecommunication masts

The LGA's position has been to make the case for masts up to 15m high which are currently permitted under the General Planning Development Order to be brought under normal planning controls, and for PPG8 on telecommunications to be revised. This position has been pursued with the DETR who have very recently indicated that a consultation paper should be expected in July or August which may include an extension of the "prior notification" period within which local authorities can refuse an application under the current system, and that a two-tier process may be introduced for minor and more significant applications. Although this does not go as far as the LGA would like it would be a significant move.

b) Affordable/Social Housing

Circular 6/98 on Planning and Affordable Housing was published earlier this year and, again, the DETR has moved significantly in the right direction, but not far enough. The thresholds above which developers can be required to provide affordable housing have been lowered and these can be varied to suit local circumstances in local plans. The use of financial contributions in lieu of on-site provision is recognised and clarified. But the major plank of the LGA's policy which was not incorporated is the definition of affordable housing as housing for those in the most need, and in which the public sector has a permanent interest.

c) A3 (Food and Drink) Use Class

The LGA has been pursuing the need for the planning system to distinguish between uses within the A3 use class to allow planning authorities to exercise the different criteria which are needed for applications for pub, restaurant and take-away use. Following a circular to all authorities, a meeting was held with the DETR who confirmed that Ministers were keeping this under review. As part of this exercise, the secretariat will be liaising with the Council for Scottish Local Authorities to get more information on the workings of the Scottish system, The high profile of the issue is being maintained.

d) Planning Policy Guidance Notes.

To date the approaches to the DETR on the inadequacy of the current framework for national planning as set out in PPGs have not met with substantial or encouraging responses. This strand of policy development will therefore continue in 1998/99.

4. Good planning practice

The priority has been pursued through the Good Planning Practice Task Group and details of their final report are included in the Planning Committee Agenda for 26th June 1998. The Task Group explored four principal areas: Delegation in decision taking; Public involvement in the Development Control process; Enforcement; and Community involvement.

5. Work has also been done on four other areas:

a) Race and the built environment

b) Quality and Design

c) Travellers and Gypsies

d) Waste planning

PLANNING COMMITTEE POLICY PRIORITIES FOR 1998/99

The following four priority areas have been adopted for 1998/99:

1. Planning and the better local government agenda

This priority area would include:

* reviewing the role of land-use planning within corporate and community planning;

* reviewing the implications of the proposed new duty for local authorities to promote economic, social and environmental well-being.

* reviewing the role of the development plan

* Best value: monitor the work carried out on planning by the best value pilots and the planning officers society with particular reference to the contribution of Best Value to the wider priorities.

2. Integrated planning and transport

This priority would include:

* reviewing the need for new planning guidance (for example PPGs 1, 6, and 13 which deal with the general principles of planning, retail and transport respectively);

* reviewing the role of the development plan;

* reviewing the need for changes in legislation (for example the General Development Order and the Use Classes Order);

* reviewing the contributions of planning obligations to transport infrastructure and services;

* promoting new techniques for determining accessibility and location;

* promoting the need for a national airports policy.

3. Changes in planning policy

Changes proposed in the previous year, and those arising from the first two priorities will be pursued. In addition, the following have been identified as specific priorities:

* Europe - the LGA responded to the draft version of the spatial development framework and will review its position when a revised draft appears this summer.

* Regional planning

* Housing - review of PPG3 and any further issues arising from the joint LGA/House builders Federation Working Group.

* Planning Policy Guidance - pursuing the Association's outstanding priority of a thorough review of the role and content of PPGs.

4. Implementation mechanisms

One common theme emerging from many areas is the pressing need to look at implementation mechanisms, i.e. how policies and initiatives are delivered, and arrive at conclusions for both good practice and changes in legislation. Priorities would include:

* Quality in the built environment - investigate how best to ensure quality design in rural and urban environments

* Household growth - identify the policies and good practices which are needed at local level to ensure that regional planning can be carried out

* Regeneration and CPO powers - existing best practice to be publicised and new powers to be defined

* Enforcement - as above

* Planning for sustainability - investigate further good practice and new techniques such as the environmental capital approach

* Training for councillors - joint guide to be produced with DETR and RTPI. To be published in September 1998.

COUNCILLOR TONY LUDLOW
East Hampshire District Council

Last update: 14/09/2000
Author: Nick Goulder, Policy Manager

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