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Paper 4 - 26 November 1999 Meeting

ASSOCIATION OF HAMPSHIRE AND ISLE OF WIGHT LOCAL AUTHORITIES

26 November 1999

REGIONAL PLANNING GUIDANCE FOR THE SOUTH EAST

Report of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight SERPLAN Co-ordination Group

RECOMMENDATION

That the Association urges the Secretary of State to reject the housing proposals of the Crow report on regional planning guidance.

SUMMARY

The Panel appointed to conduct a Public Examination of the SERPLAN draft Regional Planning Guidance (RPG) has produced a report calling for a very high level of housing growth in the South East. The Secretary of State will decide what modifications to make in the light of a wider consideration including the Urban Task Force report. The Association's views should be communicated to the Secretary of State at this stage.

BACKGROUND

1. In December 1998 SERPLAN submitted to the Secretary of State for the Environment its Sustainable Development Strategy for the South-East. The Strategy represents SERPLAN's draft planning guidance for the South East for the period to 2016. It is hoped that the Strategy will be accepted by the Secretary of State and used by him in his revised Regional Planning Guidance to be published by the end of March 2000. Regional Planning Guidance sets the framework for the preparation of local authority development plans (eg the Structure Plan). The existing Regional Planning Guidance (RPG9) was published in 1994 and gives guidance to 2011.

2. This Association created the SERPLAN Co-ordination Group to bring together the Members and Officers on SERPLAN from Hampshire and the Isle of Wight and contributed to the SERPLAN draft planning guidance. We also sent a leaflet to all relevant partner organisations encouraging them to respond to the original SERPLAN draft.

3. In accordance with new procedures, draft regional guidance has to be tested through a Public Examination process and recommendations made to the Secretary of State. A Public Examination of SERPLAN's draft Regional Strategy took place during May and June of this year and the Association received reports back.

REPORT OF THE PANEL

4. On 8 October 1999 the Government Office for the South East published the Panel's report with its recommendations to the Secretary of State. The Panel criticises SERPLAN's Strategy for:

(i) being "too much focused on sustainablity as meaning simply the conservation of the countryside environment";

(ii) failing "to put forward proposals to strengthen the region's economy to the full"; and

(iii) "failing to produce an adequate strategy for housing".

5. The Panel concludes that economic enterprise should not be impeded "save for strong and manifestly demonstrable local environmental reasons". Neither congestion nor labour supply should be used as a reason for frustrating the proper development of the region to world class.

6. Four "Areas of Plan Led Expansion" are promoted: Ashford, Milton Keynes, Crawley/ Gatwick and Stansted. Although none of these areas are in Hampshire, the Panel has suggested that southern Hampshire could be one if the strategic planning authorities decide that the APLE approach is the most appropriate way to deal with the proposed housing numbers.

7. The Panel argues in respect of South East Hampshire:

The South East Hampshire conurbation should continue to be a priority area for economic regeneration on the basis that assistance is concentrated on those parts of the area which experience conditions of deprivation, poor environment and limited access to employment;

Structure plan should be expected to make provision for expansion of Port of Southampton;

The national North-South corridors of roads and rail should be enhanced to allow the Port to better serve inland markets beyond the South East. Support should also be given to the A3 improvements at Hindhead;

To draw together the several parts of the Region, a major project of public transport enhancement such as South Hampshire Rapid Transit (SHRT) is needed;

The area should be expected to accommodate further housing, and in particular to address deficiencies in affordable housing according to local assessment; and

Future patterns of development should be well related to the existing urban areas and reduce dependency on car-based travel.

8. The Panel supports SERPLAN's proposals for designation of the Isle of Wight as a Priority Area for Economic Regeneration.

9. The Panel recommends that local authorities should make the most of the economic spin-off from the region's smaller airports, Southampton/Eastleigh airport among them.

10. A regional figure for additional housing 1996-2016 of 1,098,000 is proposed compared with the 666,000 - 718,000 in SERPLAN's draft Strategy. The Hampshire figure is increased from an annual rate of 5,212 dwellings to an annual rate of 8,450 dwellings, by far the highest figure in the region. This figure can be compared with the actual average annual rate for 1996-99 of 5,978 dwellings. Most importantly, the Panel rejects SERPLAN's proposals to "plan, monitor and manage" in favour of providing fully at the outset for the likely housing need.

11. The Panel recommends that the Regional Planning Guidance should guide development to urban areas (50%) and then "to sustainable locations on the fringes of the larger urban areas or to new settlements, either clusters or free-standing, where development can be readily served by public transport ...".

12. The Panel suggests that the Blackwater Valley should be the subject of a separate sub-regional plan "to ensure that the future economic growth of the area is fully optimised" and co-ordinated across local planning authority boundaries. It recommends that the study should replace the structure plan for that particular part of the County.

13. The Panel makes no specific references to the Hampshire countryside, although its conclusion that a hierarchy of countryside designations should be adopted would result in the New Forest and various Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty being highlighted on the regional key diagram which would accompany any new Regional Planning Guidance.

14. The Panel recommends that strategic gaps and other local designations should be reviewed with a view to accommodating necessary housing development.

15. Finally, the Panel recommends that government should make a firm commitment to the public investment necessary to implement the regional plan.

NEXT STEPS

16. The Report has been submitted to the Secretary of State for the Environment. He has to decide how to respond to it. He will publish proposed modifications to the draft SERPLAN Strategy in the light of the Panel's recommendations. At that time there will be a period of public consultation.

17. The Secretary of State's original timescale was to publish modifications later this autumn. However, it is more likely that the modifications will not be published until early next year. After the proposed modification stage the Secretary of State would decide what to do in the light of representations received before moving to the publication of new Regional Planning Guidance.

18. There is a meeting of the SERPLAN Conference on 18 November 1999 when the Panel report will be the main item of business. It is clear that many individuals and organisations will be writing to the Secretary of State before he publishes his response to the Panel's report urging him to follow particular lines of action. SERPLAN Members Policy Group has approved a detailed response to the Panel report. In view of the implications of the Panel's recommendations for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight it would be prudent if representations were made to the Secretary of State before he decides his response.

19. Meanwhile the LGA has made representations to the Secretary of State, and these are attached as in the Annex.

20. The South East England Regional Assembly has also expressed its concerns at the Crow report, and will be giving more detailed consideration to RG at its Assembly meeting on 24 November. Members should note that the Assembly will become the new Regional Planning Body (RPB) in succession to SERPLAN in March 2001. This Association's response will be copied to the Assembly.

21. The Association's SERPLAN Co-ordination Group has met under the Chairmanship of Councillor Dudley Keep (Hampshire County Council) and recommends that the Association makes its view known to the Deputy Prime Minister and Secretary of State.

ROBIN SMITH 
Chief Executive, Havant Borough Council

Last update: 12/10/2000
Author: Nick Goulder, Policy Manager

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