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Paper 5 - 26 September 2003 Meeting

ASSOCIATION OF HAMPSHIRE AND ISLE OF WIGHT LOCAL AUTHORITIES

26 September 2003

STRATEGIC PLANNING

Report by Chief Executive, Winchester City Council and Director of Environment, Hampshire County Council

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RECOMMENDATIONS

It is recommended that:

(1) Officers continue to press the South East England Regional Assembly on the future role envisaged for county, district and unitary authorities in strategic planning, and the proposed mechanism for involving these authorities in preparation of the Regional Spatial Strategy;

(2) Officers in each of the sub-regional study areas proposed by the Regional Assembly advise Members locally how best to take forward work on sub-regional strategies; and

(3) The Association considers its possible role in facilitating co-ordination of strategic planning across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.
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INTRODUCTION

1. On 28 March 2003 The Association resolved:
ˇ that the Districts, Unitary Authorities and County Council should work together on the preparation of Local Development Documents (LDDs) and explore options for joint plans;

ˇ that Members should build on the current sub-regional studies nearing completion and develop them into draft sub-regional strategies for South Hampshire and the Blackwater Valley; and

ˇ to ask the Planning Officer’s Group (HIPOG) to continue to monitor the new legislation (and associated guidance) as it emerges and to promote/support the development of partnerships to ensure that the new arrangements can be effectively delivered in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

2. This paper summarises key areas of work which need to be put in hand and seeks approval to a way forward. There are three broad issues the Association now needs to consider:

ˇ LDDs and Regional Planning Guidance - publication of the Planning Bill following on from the earlier consultations introduced a degree of uncertainty to the review of the County Structure Plan. The Hampshire Structure Plan Joint Advisory Panel (JAP) agreed, in April 2003, not to progress the review, but we nevertheless need an early indication of, and indeed input to, the regional policies which will impact on Hants/IoW. This is of particular importance regarding housing numbers post-2011 if we are to progress work on Local Plans and, in due course, LDDs.

ˇ Sub-regional strategies - these will be important documents both locally in influencing LDDs and regionally in shaping Regional Spatial Strategy. Hants/IoW authorities need to be clear on the arrangements we are making for taking forward discussion and debate on the make-up of these strategies, both at political and officer level. Detailed debate will not take place at a Hants/IoW-wide level, and will also need to involve authorities in neighbouring counties. However, the Association should maintain an overview of this work.

ˇ Future arrangements - with the evolving picture on strategic planning and the changes in responsibilities of authorities and Regional Assembly, the Association should review the county-wide arrangements for dialogue and debate on strategic planning. The existing structure of JAP will no longer be appropriate, and we need to develop and adopt a new approach.

ISSUES FOR DISCUSSION

Local Development Documents and Regional Planning Guidance

3. Against a background of legislative proposals for a fundamental change to the planning system, coupled with a pressing need for strategic guidance to inform future strategic planning, there has been a growing unease amongst the Hants/IoW authorities about the regional and national policy framework within which Local Plans and LDDs need to be prepared. In our own area there is particular concern about both the housing policies to be included in Local Plans currently in preparation and, in due course, in LDDs. This focuses in particular on housing numbers post- 2011, taking account of Planning Policy Guidance (PPG12) which advises districts that plans should have a 10 year life after adoption.

4. The Regional Assembly has now taken on the role of the Regional Planning Body, and is required to prepare, in consultation, a Regional Spatial Strategy. The Regional Assembly has published a timetable for the delivery of that Strategy which envisages a draft, outlining strategic options, being first considered in spring of 2004 and the Strategy being approved by May 2006. The outline timetable proposed by Regional Assembly is shown in the Annex. In the meantime, there are a number of officers from our area involved in preparatory work with regional bodies, and Hants/IoW Members are also represented on the Regional Assembly Planning Committee.

5. The Regional Assembly’s target is ambitious, and if it is to be achieved, will need an intensive period of work over the next 9 months. This work will need to draw extensively upon existing resources within County and District authorities. The emerging legislation allows the Regional Planning Bodies to retain county and unitary authorities as agents, but to date no formal arrangements have been put in place.

6. All authorities in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight have a role to play in the development of regional planning policies and, in due course, in their delivery. This should be recognised in the arrangements for consultation on and development of the Regional Spatial Strategy. The engagement of local Members and officers at this early stage is a good starting point for this, but it is recommended that officers continue to press Regional Assembly on the future role envisaged for county, district and unitary authorities and the proposed mechanism for involving these authorities in strategy preparation.

Sub-regional Spatial Strategies

7. The proposed new arrangements for strategic planning provide for the preparation of Sub-regional Strategies where there is a good case for planning at a level below the region but above district level LDDs. There are ten proposed sub-regional study areas across the South East proposed by the Regional Assembly; the studies would be the precursor to Spatial Strategies, which may cover a smaller area. Three of these affect Hampshire and Isle of Wight authorities:

ˇ There is agreement between Regional Assembly officers and the Hampshire Authorities that a sub-regional strategy is needed for South Hampshire. At the Regional Assembly’s request, the further phase of study work this Autumn will consider the boundaries of the area for which a strategy should be prepared.

ˇ The majority of Blackwater Valley authorities and most other organisations who commented on the Blackwater Valley Sub-regional Study endorse the need for a sub-regional strategy for the Blackwater Valley. There is currently discussion about how best to provide strategic planning for this area.

ˇ Discussions are proceeding on the arrangements for and boundaries of a Thames Valley sub-regional strategy. The area of search for the strategy area includes Basingstoke (but not all of Basingstoke and Deane Borough) and parts of Hart and Rushmoor Districts.

8. Arrangements for authorities within each of these areas to work together vary:

ˇ the Blackwater Valley already has a Network Members Group which has guided a lot of strategic work for the sub-region.

ˇ some of the authorities in the proposed South Hampshire sub-region already meet at both officer and Member level, and work has been done on issues for the area. This group may need to expand to include others (Isle of Wight, New Forest, Test Valley and Winchester), depending on decisions reached about the nature of the sub-region.

ˇ authorities outside Hampshire are already working on the proposed Thames Valley sub-region. Basingstoke & Deane, and perhaps Hart and Rushmoor, will wish to consider what part they should play in those discussions.

9. All authorities involved with each of these proposed sub-regions will wish to consider how best to play a part in the development of Sub-regional Spatial Strategies. It is suggested that, rather than working through the Association, officers in each area consider how best to take these discussions forward in the light of the current state of play locally. This might, for example, entail seminars to bring Members from all authorities involved up to speed on local work and discussions. The timetable is tight if such strategies are to contribute to the Regional Spatial Strategy, and so work will need to be progressed swiftly.

10. The Association will wish to monitor progress in each sub-region and ensure it aligns with the timetables for work on the Regional Spatial Strategy and on LDDs.

Future Arrangements for Dialogue and Debate in the Association area

11. Under existing arrangements for strategic planning, the strategic authorities in Hampshire (Hampshire County Council, Portsmouth and Southampton City Councils) work with district councils through JAP, the Joint Advisory Panel (the Isle of Wight does not take part in these meetings). JAP is a legacy of the era of committee-based decision-making by local government. It does not easily fit with the procedures of Cabinet government. Nor does it reflect the change in responsibilities proposed by the current Planning Bill. Moreover, JAP is seen by all involved to be slow and cumbersome, and not conducive to effective, inclusive decision making.

12. As we move down a route which features a number of Sub-regional Strategies, so inter-authority political arrangements will develop around those. JAP does not fit with this model. Authorities in the Hants/IoW area do, however, need to consider whether there is a case for continued liaison on planning matters across the whole area, above and beyond that provided for with the Sub-regional work.

13. In practice the new approach to regional and strategic planning advocated by the Government will require District and Unitary Councils to work closely with the County Council, and to engage other major stakeholders. The Association may provide a forum for political engagement, perhaps with a sub-group focussing on shared planning issues, supported by officers. It is proposed that, if Members agree in principle, then officers be invited to develop proposals.

14. JAP will continue to have a role for the immediate future in ongoing matters to do with the current structure plan, most notably in monitoring housing completions. In due course, such tasks will need to migrate to a successor body.

SIMON EDEN
Chief Executive, Winchester City Council

ALISON QUANT
Director of Environment, Hampshire County Council

Date: 12 September 2003
Annex: 1
Contact: Nick Goulder - 023 8068 8431, E-mail hiow@eastleigh.gov.uk

ANNEX

TIMETABLE

Key stages for progressing the Regional Spatial Strategy through to its approval by the Deputy Prime Minister are:

Stage

Date

Rural visioning conference

37815

Conference on urban issues

37874

Strategic options

Spring 2004

Initial draft for public consultation
- Approval by Regional Assembly
- Consultation


July 2004
October-December 2004

Revised Draft
- Approval by Regional Assembly
- Submission to Government Office for the South East

Spring 2005
Late Spring 2005

Formal Consultation

Summer 2005

Public Examination

Late 2005

Approval by the Deputy Prime Minister

Mid-2006

Last update: 16/09/2003
Author: Nick Goulder, Director

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