E-Bulletin June 2018

29 June 2018

The Society's New President ...

... is Paul Seddon, Director of Planning and Regeneration at Nottingham City Council.  Paul was elected at the Society's Annual General Meeting held in Stamford on Friday 15th June 2018 and is the 22nd President of the Society since its formation in 1997. Paul is a Member of the Royal Town Planning Institute, chair of the Core Cities’ Chief Planners group, a Director of POS Enterprises and the Society’s place making and heritage subject specialist.

At the AGM Paul stated that "my aim for the year is to focus on how effective we are being as POS and how we best ensure that we are relevant and representative of our members and the country – a theme of challenging ourselves – especially how we are seen by our members and in our senior roles.”  Paul’s first blog was sent out separately on 26 June and can be viewed here.

The Immediate Past President of the Society is South Kesteven DC’s Strategic Director Development and Growth, Steve Ingram. The new Senior Vice-President is Sarah Platts, Strategic Planning and Infrastructure Manager at Kent County Council and the new Junior Vice-President is Richard Morris, Chief Planning Officer at Sevenoaks District Council.


Society Matters

Planning Awards 2018. The Society co-sponsors an award with Planning Resource for the Local Authority Planning Team of the Year.  Huge congratulations to the London Borough of Barnet’s Planning Enforcement Team who were this year’s winners.  Judges praised "an enforcement team that has embraced the importance of service improvement in an unsung area of planning that is important to public faith in the system".
And congratulations to the London Borough of Haringey’s Planning Team, who were Highly Commended. 

Opportunities to get involved in the work of the Society. The Society has a number of exciting opportunities for getting more involved in the work that it does including through POS Enterprises.  The vacancies are as follows:

Two Directors to sit on the Board of POS Enterprises.  POS Enterprises is the delivery arm of the Society, providing support and services direct to planning authorities and other public sector clients.  POS Enterprises is wholly owned by the Society, and all profits go to the Society to swell its capacity to provide support to all members and public sector planning (including being able to keep subscription fees low and running many events for free).  POS Enterprises is keen to encourage serving planners, or those have recently served, to help support its running. The Board normally meets four times a year.  If you are interested or want to find out more then please contact Steve Ingram who is the new Chair of POS Enterprises.  You can email him at pose@planningofficers.org.uk  We are also looking to fill a newly created role for a Subject Specialist for ‘New Technologies’ to cover planning in the digital age and the new and exciting innovations that are starting to emerge.  Subject Specialists support the Society in a number of ways including responding to Press Enquiries and inputting into consultation responses relevant to their particular specialism.   If you would like to put yourself forward, or can think of someone who would be great in this role, then please contact Sara Whelan, the Society's Policy Manager, at policy@planningofficers.org.uk  

POS Conference.  This year’s conference was held on 14 and 15 June in Stamford and was very well supported by public sector planners from across the country.  Huge thanks to Steve Ingram and the team supporting him for such a well-run event.  Reflecting the fact that the first Conservation Area to be  designated in the UK was Stamford, part of the conference was heritage focussed including  presentations on delivering high quality growth within, and strategies for, the historic environment.  We were also joined by Steve Quartermain, the Government’s Chief Planner, as well as speakers from the public and private sector talking about a variety of topics ranging from housing delivery through to new Planning Services Delivery.  The presentations from the conference can be viewed here.

In the News: As we are in the process of moving to a new website there is currently only limited updating being undertaken to the existing website.  In the past month the Society has commented on the following:

The European Court ruling on Habitats Regulations Assessments and what it may mean for plan-making. (14 June 2018).
Outsourcing of planning services. (14 June 2018).
Delivery Action Plans and what they may mean for authorities who have to do them. (7 June 2018).
The Government’s proposed review of National Park designations (7 June 2018). 
The draft revised NPPF proposals for the need to allocate small sites in Local Plans. (31 May 2018)
The Society’s response to the draft revised NPPF in respect of the proposed removal of the ‘Core Principles’ was also reported on.  (15 June 2018). 


Spatial Planning Latest

MHCLG’s Chief Planner has written to local authorities setting out the financial support available to them in relation to Neighbourhood Plans.  The letter can be viewed here.

DEFRA is currently seeking views on plans to designate 41 Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) around the UK and on proposed new features to be added to 12 existing MCZs.  The consultation runs until Friday 20 July 2018.  More information can be viewed here.


Development Management Latest

The Planning Practice Guidance has been updated, including providing new guidance on ‘Permission in Principle’, covering matters ranging from consideration of the Habitats Regulations through to appealing the decision of an authority. The ‘Permission in Principle’ section of the Guidance can be viewed here.  Other sections that have been updated cover ‘Consultation and pre-decision’, ‘Fees for planning applications’, ‘Making an application’, ‘Use of planning conditions’ and ‘When is permission required?’

The Local Government Association (LGA) recently sent out a survey to local authority Heads of Planning relating to permitted development rights. The aim of the survey is to enable the LGA to develop an accurate evidence base on the impact of a number of permitted development rights allowing change of use to housing without the need for planning permission. This will inform their lobbying and advocacy work, and be used in discussions with Ministers. The initial deadline was 29 June 2018 but has been extended until Friday 13 July 2018 as the LGA is keen to gather as much information as possible. If you want to find out who the survey was sent to in your authority you can email james.harman@local.gov.uk 

Government has announced a forthcoming review of the planning inquiry process.  It will be looking at the use and operation of the planning appeal inquiries procedure, will examine the end-to-end process and make recommendations to significantly reduce the time taken to conclude planning inquiries, while maintaining the quality of decisions.  The Review expects to issue a Call for Evidence over the summer.  More information can be viewed here.


Brief Updates

The Independent Review of build out led by Sir Oliver Letwin has published a draft analysis on the cause of the gap between housing completions and the amount of land allocated or permissioned in areas of high housing demand.  The draft analysis states, amongst other things, that ‘The further work we have done since 9 March, and the further evidence we have heard, has done nothing to alter my view that the homogeneity of the types and tenures of the homes on offer in these sites, and the limits on the rate at which the market will absorb such homogenous products, are the fundamental drivers of the slow rate of build out. Indeed, our further work has reinforced this view.’  The draft analysis can be viewed here.

The RTPI has published research which looks at the current corporate and strategic influence of planning in local authorities. Its findings show that the planning function has been relegated to lower positions in the corporate structure of local authorities across the UK despite the fact that planning is, like social services and education, a statutory function. The vast majority of councils put planning two or three tiers down from the chief executive, diluting its importance as a strategic corporate function that helps councils tackle social, economic and environmental challenges.  The full report can be read here.

The Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA), in conjunction with the County Councils Network (CCN), has published a report on the role of county councils in meeting housing need.  It includes a range of case studies and a number of recommendations on how to help counties do more and can be viewed here.  At the same time the CCN published its own study which calls for a re-introduction of strategic planning to closer align planning and infrastructure and to accelerate housing delivery. The study can be viewed here.

The government has announced it will raise the housing revenue account borrowing cap by a total of up to £1 billion in areas of high affordability pressure for local authorities that are ready to start building new homes.  Local authorities will be able to bid for increases in their caps between 2019 to 2020 and 2021 to 2022.  More information can be viewed here.

Government published its ‘Airports National Policy Statement: new runway capacity and infrastructure at airports in the south-east of England’ on 5 June 2018.  It provides the primary basis for decision making on development consent applications for a Northwest Runway at Heathrow Airport, and will be an important and relevant consideration in respect of applications for new runway capacity and other airport infrastructure in London and the South East of England.  The Statement can be viewed here.

Government's analysis of consultation responses to the New Towns Act 1981 (Local Authority Oversight) Regulations has been published and final Regulations have been laid before Parliament, following some amendments. The analysis and Government’s response can be viewed here.


Forthcoming POS Events

Joint London, East and South East Regions 13 July, Ebbsfleet
Joint Development Management and Spatial Policy Network 14 September, Birmingham

Category POS news