Counties have important role to play in joint plan-making
08 March 2018
The powers heralded in last year's Neighbourhood Planning Act came into effect on 15 January via new regulations, and enables the Secretary of State to invite a county council in a two-tier authority area to take over the production of a local plan.
Planning magazine reports that it is not just extra numbers that will be needed, practitioners say, but the skills set enabling authorities to effectively perform strategic planning functions. Catriona Riddell, strategic planning specialist at the Planning Officers Society, says counties' existing areas of expertise in minerals and waste planning are very specialised fields of plan-making.
Experts say counties have recently started to up their game in terms of strategic planning work. Riddell says there is "much more recognition" that counties have an important role to play in joint plan-making work, partly because of what she sees as an increased focus by government on infrastructure provision - a county council responsibility - to support development.
According to Riddell, Essex County Council still has "quite a bit of strategic planning capacity" and is offering its local plan-making services on a consultancy basis. The county has worked alongside Colchester, Tendring and Braintree Councils to produce a high-level, strategic local plan covering the three north Essex districts.