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Paper 6 - 2 June 2000 Meeting

ASSOCIATION OF HAMPSHIRE AND ISLE OF WIGHT LOCAL AUTHORITIES

2 June 2000

DRAFT REGIONAL PLANNING GUIDANCE FOR THE SOUTH EAST

Report by the Chief Executive, Havant Borough Council and the Policy Manager in association with the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Planning Officers' Group 

RECOMMENDATION

That Members consider the proposed joint response shown in bold in this report.

SUMMARY

SERPLAN's draft strategy was tested last year at a Public Examination, following which the Panel chaired by Professor Crow submitted their controversial report to the Secretary of State. The latter has now issued revised draft guidance and Member authorities are currently considering their responses. This report provides a joint response, picking up the key issues where the Association can 'add value'.

BACKGROUND

1. The Regional Planning consultation (RPG9) will be considered by SERPLAN on 12 June and the Government Office seeks responses by 19 June. Previous representations by this Association have concentrated on our agreed sub-regional infrastructure priorities (Annex 1) and on support for "urban renaissance".

2. Member authorities responses to RPG9 have varied, and proposals are put forward in this paper in areas which command a measure of agreement amongst the District, Unitary and County authorities.

CORE STRATEGY FOR THE REGION

3. The RPG9 document looks very different from SERPLAN's proposals because RPG9 returns to the traditional topic-based approach. Nevertheless the core strategy and key development principles are those approved by SERPLAN and should be supported.

SUB-REGIONS

4. A good deal of the proposed RPG is a re-statement of existing Government planning policy (i.e. already set out in Government Circulars). One section which is South-East-specific is Chapter 12, dealing with the sub-regions of:

London
Thames Gateway
the Western Arc (including the Blackwater Valley)
Two Priority Areas for Economic Regeneration (PAERs):
- South Hampshire, Southampton and Portsmouth
- the Isle of Wight
Potential Growth Areas (Milton Keynes, Ashford and Stansted/M11).

5. The text of RPG9 for the relevant areas in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight is given in Annex 2. The section on the Blackwater Valley (paragraph 12.56) suggests a joint study which should be supported provided its terms of reference are clearly to consider sustainable development. Similarly, a strategy for the sub-region covered by the PAER for South Hampshire, Southampton and Portsmouth (paragraph 12.8) needs preparing. Given the scale of co-operation required between the different authorities, the substantial size of the area compared to other PAERs and the complexity of the area, it will be most important that there is an effective grouping of all local authorities involved to carry forward this important sub-regional strategy.

THE SCALE OF HOUSING DEVELOPMENT

6. It is inevitable that the housing figures in the draft RPG gain the maximum attention because they represent a significant, 29 percent, increase on the SERPLAN proposals.

7. The annual figure for housing growth for the region selected by the Secretary of State (+ 43,000 units per annum) is within the range investigated by SERPLAN. There are no technical or demographic grounds on which the figure can be challenged. However, the final housing distribution proposed by SERPLAN was based on judgements about the effects of environmental capacity on the supply side rather than a dogmatic approach to projections of demand.

8. There are frequent references (in both the draft RPG and supporting documentation) to the difficulties and uncertainties of making long term estimates of housing need. Also the value of the "plan, monitor and manage" approach is emphasised in order to avoid over-committing the development of greenfield sites.

9. Nevertheless the consultation paper proposes a significant increase in housing growth over the SERPLAN proposals and assumes that the existing urban areas can absorb much of this extra growth through an increase in densities on land already allocated for housing. The Government Office does not consider that proposals increase the land-take beyond the SERPLAN position. Policy H4 requires local planning strategies to "achieve at least 60% of all new housing development on previously developed land."

10. It is recommended that the Association should make it clear that the level of housing growth proposed for the region is not practical in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight over the next ten years. Densities would have to increase to a level normally associated with the centres of metropolitan cities. If growth is not directed elsewhere (e.g. to the proposed growth areas) then it will take up an unacceptably large amount of greenfield sites in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

12. In addition, it is recommended that the Association should support SERPLAN in rejecting any suggestion that the SERPLAN baseline distribution should be used for "pro-rataing" changes in housing allocation, on the grounds that it was never intended as the basis for such a distribution and was not prepared on any consistent set of principles. SERPLAN has invited Government to join it in the preparation of a revised housing distribution which reflects the spatial pattern of development embodied in the SERPLAN proposals and which is assessed on a county by county areas basis against the agreed criteria including taking account of:

Urban capacity
Estimates of housing need
Labour supply and labour demand
Progress on the implementation of necessary infrastructure.

REGIONAL TRANSPORT STRATEGY

13.The broad thrust of the draft Regional Transport Strategy is to be welcomed. The need to manage future travel demand in order to deliver a more sustainable pattern of spatial development has been recognised. Key elements of the strategy are in keeping with Member authorities' approaches to developing a comprehensive parking strategy supported by measures designed to improve facilities for walking, cycling and public transport, together with appropriate investment in the road network to provide integrated transport. (Arrangements have been made for a review of these issues at the 29 September meeting of the Association).

14. There is a welcome recognition in the draft RPG that a sustainable pattern of development in South Hampshire will need to be supported by a proposal for a major improvement to the public transport system in the area between Southampton and Portsmouth. Given the regional importance of South Hampshire Rapid Transit, it should specifically be named in the detailed investment programme contained in the Regional Transport Strategy.

15. It is disappointing that the planned national strategic policy papers on sea and air transport are still not available. Without these it is difficult to appreciate fully the implications of the regional policies on improving seaport and airport facilities. However, the general principles of supporting sustainable multi-modal access to sea and port facilities is helpful. This is particularly important for Hampshire since the ports/airport serve as one of the key strategic gateways to mainland Europe. It is important to the local, regional and national economy that transport infrastructure and services here receive appropriate levels of investment to help ensure that access is well maintained in an efficient, effective and a sustainable way.

16. The multi-modal studies identified in the Regional Transport Strategy should be supported. The studies for the A3 Hindhead and the M27 South Hampshire are both currently under way. It is disappointing that the commencement of the A34 North of Southampton study is not sooner than "after 2001". The A34 road and rail corridor provides access to important markets in the north and has been identified by the business community as important to the local, regional and national economy. In view of this and the growing problems of congestion (road and rail) in the corridor, the Government Office for the South East is urged to bring this particular study forward for earlier commencement.

IMPLEMENTATION

17. The main weakness in the consultation paper is its failure to address implementation. This problem pervades the proposals. One example is the lack of power to provide sufficient affordable housing (on which the Association has previously lobbied Government). Another example is the need for more specific measures to bring "brownfield" land into use. SERPLAN will be pressing the Government Office hard on this and it is recommended that the Association fully supports SERPLAN representations on the need for some tougher implementation mechanisms. The Regional Assembly, which will assume powers as the Regional Planning Body next year, should also consider this issue.

ROBIN SMITH
Chief Executive, Havant Borough Council

NICK GOULDER
Policy Manager

Date: 22 May 2000
Annexes: 2
Contact: Nick Goulder - 023 8068 8431, E-mail hiowlang@hants.gov.uk

ANNEX 1

A SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY FOR THE SOUTH-EAST: PUBLIC CONSULTATION

DETAILED RESPONSE OF THE ASSOCIATION OF HAMPSHIRE & ISLE OF WIGHT LOCAL AUTHORITIES - JULY 1998

1. Urban Renaissance

We support the emphasis on urban renaissance and the closer integration of housing, employment and transport; but

2. Regional Perspective

We would wish to see a clearer recognition in the policies of a regional perspective with a clearer geographical interpretation of the Strategy and with additional maps/diagrams illustrating the application of policies within the Region. It needs to be clear as to how the details of the Strategy's designations achieve sustainable economic prosperity and a good quality of life for everyone in the Region with greater clarity on "core area" policies, including greater attention to rural economy issues;

3. Sub-Regional Dimension

We strongly support the emphasis on renewal in Urban South Hampshire, including its two Cities, and the Isle of Wight as priority areas for economic regeneration within the South East and the identification of the Isle of Wight as a Rural Development agency; but

4. We would wish to see a clearer and more specific spatial presentation of the Strategy with a more identifiable sub-regional perspective for firstly, Urban South Hampshire, the two Cities and the Isle of Wight and secondly, the area for economic consolidation in North East Hampshire, giving more explicit details of the scale and priorities for jobs, homes and major transportation and other infrastructure requirements;

5. We support the introduction of key targets but consider that these should be given more of a spatial dimension to complement the core of the Strategy in terms of development, movement and economic activity in the Region;

6. Countryside

We would wish to see regionally significant countryside highlighted in the Regional context and protected. Central Hampshire should be afforded such recognition as part of a wider regional countryside area extending from West Sussex to Berkshire and Oxfordshire, and recognition should be given to the particular significance of the Isle of Wight and the New Forest;

7. Housing

We note the underlying approach to the housing options and support the statements under Section 4 of the Strategy that the priority areas for economic regeneration should meet only their own needs and should not generally be seen as appropriate locations for major housing growth arising from the Region generally. the Association would wish to see these statements extended to also apply in a more explicit way to the areas for economic consolidation where issues of an imbalance between homes and jobs exists. The Association has concerns both to ensure that local housing need is met and to see that the correct type of housing is provided e.g. for the young and for the elderly, near to facilities and with good public transport.

8. We would wish to see more research on how best to meet housing need including the effective provision of affordable housing and how changes in national taxation could play a part in encouraging re-use of derelict land, making better use of the existing housing stock and making it less enticing to develop green fields and generally encouraging "urban renaissance".

9. Infrastructure

We would wish to see the Strategy include a clear indication of the transport infrastructure needs and priorities in the Region including preparation of a key diagram. Transport needs include:

1. Investment in sustainable transport infrastructure to ease congestion and facilitate movement within the Hampshire and Isle of Wight sub-region:

(i) Staged implementation of the South Hampshire Rapid Transit System including consideration of links to Eastleigh and the Waterside in the Southampton area, and the provision of a heavy rail chord at Eastleigh.

(ii) The implementation of area wide integrated strategies for major urban centres to relieve the strategic road network of short distance trips.

(iii) Development of rail link network in the Blackwater Valley area.

(iv) A feasibility study of future transport links to and within the Isle of Wight.

(v) Provision of traffic control and information systems e.g. traffic control centres and transport telematic systems such as Romanse.

(vi) Strengthening the role of the railway system generally, including improvements to rolling stock and 24 hour services to encourage tourism.

(vii) Maximising the potential of the Solent for water-based commuting.

2. Improvement of transport links between sub-regions and the rest of the Country:

(i) Upgrading of the A34, especially to remove bottlenecks at Chieveley and Easton Lane.

(ii) Strategic improvements to the A3 at Hindhead.

(iii) Upgrading of the capacity of the Southampton to Reading rail link to enhance freight capacity and passenger links with the rest of Britain.

(iv) Fast public transport links to Gatwick, Heathrow and Hurn Airports.

(v) Fast transport links eastwards to the Channel Tunnel, both road and rail.

(The above infrastructure needs and priorities are illustrated on a diagram, available on request)

10. Seaports

We would wish to see more specific recognition given to the importance of the long-term vitality of the ports of Southampton and Portsmouth and support a clearer national policy on seaport development which also has regard to environmental impacts;

11. Airports

We would wish to see clearer national policy and more positive guidance given in respect of the development of national airports, and have concerns as to the implications of a new Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport for the regional balance of economic development;

12. Car Parking

We support the proposed car parking policy (Policy ST8) as being central to a sustainable transport policy but urge that this needs to be developed as a matter of priority with specific advice on how and when standards should be applied across the Region.

ANNEX 2

EXTRACTS FROM RPG 9

SOUTH HAMPSHIRE, SOUTHAMPTON AND PORTSMOUTH

12.7 This sub-region is centred on the Solent and Southampton water and generally extends from the M27/M3 interchange to the north of Southampton to the M27/A27/A3 junction north-east of Portsmouth. It therefore encompasses all or parts of the administrative districts of New Forest, Test Valley, Southampton, Winchester, Fareham, Gosport, Portsmouth and Havant. The area contains the two cities of Portsmouth and Southampton which themselves comprise the two largest settlements in the ROSE area and includes Southampton International Airport.

12.8 Although the area enjoys general prosperity, there is a pronounced incidence of local deprivation, which is exacerbated by a skills mismatch between the requirements of jobs created by new industries and the relatively unskilled nature of a relatively high proportion of the resident workforce. Locational mismatch has developed with the main areas of lower cost and affordable housing being primarily in the inner areas and peripheral estates of Portsmouth and Southampton while the growing employment focal points are primarily at decentralised locations along the M27. Funding and assistance should be targeted to those areas where the deprivation arises. Skills enhancement will be an important element of a strategy to enable the unemployed to access the jobs that exist in the area. The area has significant potential for economic growth with a number of attractions for business including strong local universities. The strategy for the sub-region will need to maximise its economic potential while ensuring that all sectors of society are included in the economy and making best use of the available land and communication.

12.9 As the largest urban area in the Region outside London, the sub-region has sizeable needs and opportunities for urban renewal including additional housing. The main focus for development should be within the existing urban areas. However, some new development will have to be on land outside the main urban areas. Here, the location of new development should aim as far as possible to be consistent with the aim of pursuing policies of urban concentration with a high degree of accessibility to employment, social, retail and leisure facilities, and so avoiding the perpetuation of post-war patterns of car-based suburban development. Development plans should provide for patterns of development which are well related to the existing main urban areas and which reduce dependency on car-based travel. It would also be preferable to see more affordable housing in the more prosperous suburban areas where a need is being created and not met, and from where it is also easier to access the new employment areas.

12.10 There is a need to enhance the internal public transport network to reduce car commuting and increase accessibility to employment. This is likely to include a proposal for a major improvement to the public transport system to draw together the several parts of the sub-region, both to provide a more sustainable transport pattern and also to increase its prosperity by giving greater choice of workplace to those at present lacking such choice.

12.11 The Port of Southampton is of regional significance and there is a need to ensure that genuine multi-modal access especially from north to south is available. Local authorities should encourage the improvement of north-south road and rail corridors to allow the Port to serve inland markets beyond the South East. Any proposal for the expansion of the Port will need to take account of the wider spatial strategy and its environmental, social and economic objectives.

THE ISLE OF WIGHT

12.12 The Isle of Wight is both a PAER and a Rural Development Area. It is administered by the Isle of Wight Council. A substantial area of the island is designated as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), while much of its coastline is designated Heritage Coast. Areas of land and stretches of coastline are also designated for their international and national importance for wildlife.

12.13 As an island economy it has particular characteristics and needs. Tailored solutions will be required to tackle the problems of unemployment and deprivation experienced on the island. The development of local supply chains will be important as will facilitating the growth of business clusters which do not depend on the transport of large amounts of goods. Skills enhancement will be an important part of the strategy to tackle deprivation and social exclusion.

12.14 The island has a long history as a holiday location and there is a need to encourage appropriate tourist facilities, while protecting the local environment. In diversifying the rural economy of the island, local partners will need to ensure that all sectors of the local community are involved in the economy and that it is sensitive to the natural resources, landscape and cultural features. Development should be focused in existing urban areas of the island to maximise the viability and functioning of those areas and to protect the countryside.

12.15 In order to meet local trends efforts should be focused to increase the supply of affordable housing and housing types which reflect local needs. High-quality design is required which would reinforce the objective of urban renaissance. This needs to be supported by transport measures to improve access within and between the island's settlements, for example, improving facilities to encourage walking, cycling and public transport. Furthermore, communication between the island and the mainland are vital to the island's economy. Transport operators, local authorities on the mainland and the Isle of Wight Council should work together to improve communications with the mainland as part of a sustainable transport strategy for the island.

THE BLACKWATER VALLEY

12.53 The Blackwater Valley encompasses all or parts of the administrative districts of Surrey Heath, Waverley and Guildford in Surrey; Bracknell Forest and Wokingham in Berkshire; and Hart and Rushmoor in Hampshire. The Valley runs in a south to north-west direction and covers the larger towns of Farnham, Aldershot, Farnborough and Camberley, and several smaller settlements including Ash, Frimley Green, Blackwater and Sandhurst. Although in proximity to each other, these are clearly distinguishable as separate settlements. The area is connected north-south by the A331 (Blackwater Valley road) and A325, and east-west by the M3, A30 and A31. The railway network also links the larger towns. The area enjoys reasonable proximity to Heathrow and Gatwick airports. Whilst the initial impression is that the area is quite well served by the transport system, closer analysis reveals that there are shortcomings in the rail network, particularly the poor relationship between north-south and east-west links. Evidence also indicates that there is no significant capacity in the rail network to serve additional commuters, with the likely consequence that any new development would increase the levels of car-borne commuting. There is therefore a need for improvements to the public transport system and, in particular, the rail network which should be addressed through local transport plans.

12.54 The Blackwater Valley experienced significant expansion in the 1960s and 1970s and is now under pressure for further residential and employment development yet is partly constrained by the Green Belt and environmental designations of international importance. The area has been specifically identified in this guidance to assist the process of ensuring that future development is carried out in a co-ordinated manner.

12.55 The area has a buoyant and thriving economy that should be encouraged to grow. However, if future economic growth is to take place, it should occur within an acceptable pattern of development having regard to environmental constraints in the area. For this reason, the local authorities should work together to ensure the adoption of a co-ordinated approach to transportation and land-use planning, and to avoid problems associated with more fragmented cross-boundary initiatives. This will build upon the existing Blackwater Valley network of local authorities. Making best use of existing urban areas and enhancing their quality as part of an urban renaissance will be important for the sustainable development of the area.

12.56 The Regional Planning Body may wish to consider a joint study to provide a framework for local authorities which will ensure that future economic growth in the area is fully optimised. Such a study could clarify the extent of the Blackwater Valley sub-region and identify the best locations for economic growth on the basis of taking advantage of local potential. It should help to identify areas where labour supply is constraining growth and take positive measures to relieve this problem, either by the provision of more housing or by the improvement of public transport. Any agreed strategy for the area should be reflected in development plans, and local authorities should incorporate improvements to the transport infrastructure for the area in their local transport plans.

Last update: 04/10/2000
Author: Nick Goulder, Policy Manager

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