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Paper 9 -  26 January 2001

ASSOCIATION OF HAMPSHIRE AND ISLE OF WIGHT LOCAL AUTHORITIES

26 January 2001

DRAFT REVISED REGIONAL PLANNING GUIDANCE FOR THE SOUTH EAST (RPG 9) AND CONSULTATION ON THE PROPOSED HOUSING DISTRIBUTION

Report by the Chief Executives’ Group in association with Hampshire and Isle of Wight Planning Officers

______________________________________________________________________________(2) 

RECOMMENDATIONS

(1) That the revised RPG9 be welcomed for its positive response to the majority of comments by the Association;

(2) That, in response to the consultation on housing distribution, the Association registers concern:

(a) at the continuing high level of housing growth proposed for Hampshire;

(b) at the lack of response to fiscal measures proposed to discourage greenfield development; and

(3) That the officers be asked to report further as set out in paragraph 9.

______________________________________________________________________________

SUMMARY

At its meeting on 2 June 2000 this Association considered the Secretary of State’s proposed changes to Regional Planning Guidance and made a number of suggestions about the further revisions needed to ensure that the guidance properly reflected a long-term sustainable development strategy for the region. The Guidance has now been amended in the light of all the comments received. It has been published as a draft because the Secretary of State has invited comments specifically on the proposed housing distribution. After consultation on the housing distribution the Secretary of State will produce the final guidance taking into account the views expressed during the consultation.

BACKGROUND

1. Draft Regional Planning Guidance for South East England (RPG9) was published on 18 December. SERPLAN Conference debated the topic on 19 December and adopted the following resolution:

"SERPLAN notes the publication of RPG9 and the consultation on housing. SERPLAN regrets that as a result of the delay in publishing RPG9 there has not been time for officers to prepare advice and, in the circumstances, therefore recommends that member authorities should make their own responses to government."

SERPLAN will not, therefore, be making a response to the consultation as a body.

KEY PRINCIPLES AND STRATEGY

2. The draft revised Regional Planning Guidance is an amended version of the document published in March 2000. Many of the amendments have been made either to reflect recent changes in government policy, to correct factual inaccuracies, reduce repetition or to clarify the regional dimension of the policy. With the exception of the housing policies there are no significant changes.

3. The Key Development Principles and the Core Strategy for the region remain unchanged from the March 2000 draft document. Setting aside the issue of housing numbers and distribution the Secretary of State for the Environment has responded positively to the majority of comments made by the Association on the earlier document. The changes made to Chapter 12 – Sub-Regional Areas, are particularly welcome as they overcome the Association’s concern that the March draft failed to give a clear policy focus for the proposed detailed studies within individual areas.

IMPLEMENTATION

4. The Association, in its response to the March 2000 draft, drew attention to the failure of the strategy to address implementation. In particular, the Association called for more specific measures to bring brownfield land into use, including fiscal measures such as VAT incentives for redevelopment.

5. The revisions have gone some way to addressing the weaknesses in the implementation proposals but the Government has not yet taken on board the proposals for fiscal change.

HOUSING

6. On the question of housing provision, the Secretary of State for the Environment has moved some way towards the Association’s position. He has accepted the point that any proposed annual rate of housing provision should reflect what is achievable. There also appears to be an acceptance that the process of "plan, monitor and manage" should involve managing up from a base-line provision rather than managing down from a higher level. However, the proposed base-line of 39,000 dwellings a year is a trend-based figure which maintains the current level of house-building and reflects the thinking behind the last regional planning guidance prepared in the early 1990s when social, economic and environmental circumstances were different to those underpinning the new regional planning strategy.

7. The County Planning Officer has carried out an analysis from which the conclusion can be drawn that none of the Hampshire County Structure Plan 1996-2011 (Review) reserve sites would appear to be required for at least the next five years. The Secretary of State for the Environment expects the draft Revised Regional Planning Guidance to be reviewed within this five year period.

8. The Association’s comments on the March 2000 draft RPG urged the Secretary of State for the Environment to adopt a similar approach to housing provision to that in the recently adopted Hampshire County Structure Plan 1996-2011 (Review), namely a deliverable base-line provision with an additional provision to be triggered in the medium term if the need could be demonstrated. The housing policies in draft revised RPG go some way to meeting that suggestion, but the level of housing growth remains too high to protect greenfield areas from development. However, Members will want to be aware that this draft RPG expects that house building rates will increase to some 43,000 in the South East during the next RPG Review.

FURTHER JOINT WORK

9. Whatever the outcome of the current consultation on housing numbers, Member authorities will need to address implementation issues including:-

* Key worker housing
* Urban renaissance and housing densities.

It is suggested that the Association could help Member authorities address issues and that a further report is requested. This further report should also deal with the future of planning guidance under the Regional Assembly, as SERPLAN ceases to exist from April 2001.

ROBIN SMITH
Honorary Secretary

Date: 15 January 2001
Annex: 0
Contact: Nick Goulder - 023 8068 8431, E-mail hiowlang@hants.gov.uk

Last update: 22/01/2001
Author: Nick Goulder, Policy Manager

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