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House of Commons Select Committee Inquiry into Revocation of RSSs

Date: 11/11/2010

POS attended the Select Committee hearing on 18th October; the Society was represented by Malcolm Sharp (JVP) and Catriona Riddell (Convenor, Strategic Planning Topic Forum). Their reports on what happened are included below.

malcolm-sharp-pos.jpg  Malcolm Sharp: "I think we could say that they were interested to hear what we had to say as the session over ran somewhat and not just because of the Division Bell!

We got our point over about there needing to be some strategic planning (or 'more that local planning') even if it were not to be statutory to deal with, for example, infrastructure and sustainable distribution of growth. We cited examples of emerging good practise for voluntary arrangements e.g. Cambridgeshire and supported the inclusion of a 'duty to co-operate' within emerging legislation. Since there would only be one level of statutory Development Plan the associated evidence base would necessarily have to consider the local area in a wider context and arguably in order for plans to be found 'sound' show how this had been properly considered

We agreed LEPs may be part of the answer for strategic co-operation but that they would not be democratic and LPAs would therefore still need to play the key role incorporating agreed strategies into their Development Plan and in any case there was unlikely to be 100 coverage by LEPS.

In response to questioning about housing numbers we made the point that there was no evidence of an immediate shortage of land available but that other constraints especially funding availability and market conditions were more significant in slowing delivery. However there was evidence of quite a few LPAs stopping their plans and or reducing numbers. We stressed the importance of a robust evidence base and that LPAs would still be required to meet identified need otherwise they would be vulnerable to planning by appeal and a highly unsustainable pattern of development which did not maximise the potential of available infrastructure.

The questioning included 'what was local need that needed to be accommodated?' and we took the view that this was more than indigenous growth but related to the economic growth of the area and associated housing needs."

catriona-riddell-pos.jpg Catriona Riddell: "Some other points were:

  • planners are part of the solution (given half a chance) and not the problem
  • the national planning framework should be guiding national investment priorities if it is going to add value, which should include some priorities in terms of overall housing need and potentially some priority areas for growth/regeneration (although from what I've heard this is unlikely to happen).
  • local authorities (particularly those in the South) are not necessarily anti-housing but they do want new development to be properly supported with the right infrastructure.  I made the point that in the SE the housing numbers were actually driven from the bottom up until NHPAU got involved and appeared to be dictating to local authorities.

All in all I think we presented a good case on behalf of POS and I have had some positive feedback."


You can view the Society submission document  by clicking here

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