Archive for the ‘Regional Planning’ Category
Ranging from the two National Parks to the seven Local Enterprise Partnerships there are a wealth of organisations in the South Eastern part of England that cross over various Local Authority areas. A full breakdown can be found in the document SE England Bodies.
Back in July and again a week ago SEFS sent along a representative to the South East England Councils (SEEC) all member meetings (papers for the SEEC All Member meetings can be found here along with the dates for future meetings):
Update from SEEC All Member Meeting 8th November 2011
If you were familiar with the make-up of the old Regional Assembly, the faces at the SEEC meeting look pretty similar, apart from the lack of stakeholders. Some old SEERA staff members have also transferred over (Nick Wolfenden and Heather Bolton). SEEC is chaired by Paul Carter (KCC)
- a key issue from the debate was that LA’s themselves are not clear whether they or LEP’s will be the ones Govt will listen to most. There is a sense that LEP’s definitely seem to have influence, but in the margins of the meeting the view was they are all different, all over-stretched (eg the Kent/Essex and E. Sussex LEP has 40 Board members so decision making difficult) and the environment is not figuring highly.
The meeting agenda was more a series of presentations not all relevant to the environment (eg broadband and in-migration impacts). The economy dominated and many of the familiar arguments about why there as a need to invest in the SE. Key theme of the day was infrastructure (but not of the green variety).
Infrastructure Planning Commission
- 80% of current caseload = energy projects
- In the SE there are 3 offshore windfarms, 1 submitted (Kentish Flats)
- IPC will be abolished in April via Localism Bill – needs a smooth transition
- Emphasised the “big” investment in the SE eg Crossrail, Hindhead, Reading station
- Justine Greening the new Minister wants to continue devolving decisions but wants time to think about how to do this
- David Robertson (Oxon cllr) is the SEEC Transport Convener. He made a short presentation arguing for the need for agreed SE priorities rather each Local Authority fighting its own corner. He emphasised the good job done by the previous RTB. Peter Lee said the shrunken DfT would also value groups of LA’s coming together. But the unknown question for LA’s is whether Government wants groups of LAs to come together or groups of LEPs. Paul Carter wondered if the groups of LEPs might be the key influencers
- There was concern that the new EU Energy Efficiency Directive would put a big financial burden on LA’s by making energy efficiency the primary consideration in procurement decisions and requiring a significant % annual spend on refurbishing buildings
Revoking the SE Plan
- The SEA of the Revocation of the SE Plan is out for consultation but SEEC are not looking to respond
Update from the SEEC AGM – 13th July
- Paul Carter was re-elected unopposed as chair. Keith House (Eastleigh) and Tony Page (Reading) were selected for deputy chair.
- Ex-oficio roles on the Executive Committee: Planning and Housing went to Moira Gibson (Surrey Heath); Transport went to David Robertson (Oxon); Economic Development & Skills went to Martin Tett (Bucks CC).
- Probably the biggest issue for SEEC was resources for local government and the bias against the South East in terms of finance from central government. Particularly in light of the upcoming planning framework, which was acknowledged to be much more pro-development, it was seen as crucial to lobby for appropriate resources to pay for necessary infrastructure. It was also noted that deprivation in the South East increased nearly 7 percent between 2007 and 2010.
- On European priorities: the group agreed on the three recommendations from the paper- sharing information about European funding opportunities, pursuing opportunities to influence funding programs from the policy side, and continuing the task and finish group looking at this. Paul Carter noted that he couldn’t identify any examples of where EU funding had been useful or beneficial to businesses or communities.
- Ian Coates of BIS Local came along to talk about the new BIS setup; he covers the South East and South West. The purpose is to form a bridge between Whitehall and the real world (using local knowledge to influence policy), help businesses respond to economic shocks, and identify and realize opportunities. The offices have a coordnating and information-sharing role; they do not have any funding and there are no performance measures.
- There was a feeling that there are too many groupings and partnerships (SEEC and SESL, for instance). An effort will be made to rationalize, and working with Andrew Povey (Surrey, head of SESL) on this.
The business plan will be circulated in September with more detail, but main components are:
- More money for the South East
- Data Dashboard
- EU work
- Transport (strategic issues. Also, SESL does a lot on this)
Other priorities raised include:
- Infrastructure summit
- Economy, relationships with the LEPs
- New homes bonus one year on
- Localism Bill
- Other issues in legislation that SEEC would like to have a collective voice on
- Relationship with London.
Those with your ears to the ground today will have heard that DCLG has announced the consultation on the Strategic Assessment of the Revocation of Regional Spatial Strategies.
Click here for the press notice and here for the link to each individual RSS SEA consultation document.
The non Technical summary of the South East document concludes …” Whilst the environmental effects cannot therefore be predicted in detail at this point, it is clear that the revocation of regional strategies and their top-down targets will provide opportunities for securing environmental benefits because their revocation would remove certain current policies which present a threat to local environments.”
It goes on to say: “In overall terms, it is reasonable to anticipate that decisions taken locally will look to maximise positive environmental outcomes for the local area. However, even if there were circumstances where this was not the case, strong protections for the environment set out in national planning policy and, in many cases, provided for by national and European legislation means it is highly unlikely that there would be any significant adverse environmental effects resulting from the revocation.” note editors emphasis.
The consultation runs until the 20th January and the SEFS Planning Group will be discussing a SEFS response to the consultation. For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Towards the end of July the Government published it’s long awaited National Planning Policy Framework for consultation. As feared early analysis suggests the Framework suggests the default position is “yes” to development.
The consultation runs until 17th October and can be found here
There has been much discussion in the press about the NPPF and SEFS member comments/press releases and other comment can be found below:
Friends of the Earth
Campaign for Better Transport
SEFS will be considering it’s position at the next Planning Group meeting due to take place in September.
Firstly the good news
SEFS Future – GOOD NEWS
At the AGM in November things looked rather bleak with insufficient funds in the pot to see SEFS through 2011. It was with regret that members agreed to proceed on the basis of a slimmed down version of SEFS.
However, since then our new chair Ian Hepburn has worked tirelessly to secure SEFS for another year and thanks to kind offers of increased membership from many P&EC members, £ for £ membership raised match funding from the Wildlife Trusts, £5,000 from the Environment Agency and we hope you’re continuing financial support. It looks like SEFS can carry on as it is at least until March 2012.
CALA Homes RSS Legal Challenge
This case has had more twists and turns than a fun fair ride and just this week a new judgement has lifted the “order that prevented local planners taking into account proposed abolition”. This is dependent on Eric Pickles writing to councils advising them of the impending Judicial Review due to start (in expedited form week commencing 17th January 2011). More details from Planning Daily
The long awaited Localism Bill was published on 13th December. SEFS has yet to consider the implications however member organisations have already commented in the press. Friends of the Earth is concerned that the Bill will undermine local democracy and action to tackle climate change and ask the bill be amended to give
- Clearer guidance to councils to give the green light to developments that cut carbon emissions, like greener transport and renewable energy schemes.
- A tougher ‘presumption against’ developments that cause environmental damage;
- Boost public participation in decision making. Under the proposals local communities wanting to shape development in their area will have to fund the writing of neighbourhood plans – which sets out the type of developments that communities want – which could create an unfair planning system. Those that can’t afford to draw up a plan will be at risk of unchecked development in their area.
CPRE on the other hand have welcomed the first reading stating “The Bill promises to be a significant step towards devolving power to local people through neighbourhood plans”. However they want to see safeguards included in the Bill in the form of “a limited ‘community right of appeal” this is viewed as “crucial to ensure that development is in line with the vision set out by local people. If it is not, then many may consider neighbourhood plans not to be worth the effort.”
SEFS will be keeping a watching eye on the Bill and considering the implications for the South East in the New Year.
High Speed Rail 2
SEFS Transport Group has been working on the issue of HS2 for a while now and is currently drawing up a top line position statement on the subject. This will be available on the SEFS website early in 2011.
RSPB are continuing to spearhead a campaign against the proposed expansion of Lydd Airport. The planning application was given approval earlier this year however it has now been called in for a public inquiry.
RSPB are asking groups and members of the public to write to the Planning Inspector before the start of the inquiry on the 15th February voicing their concerns over the proposed development. More details can be found on the RSPB website
Planning & Climate Coalition (P&CC)
The P&CC have recently launched a guide for local authorities on planning and climate change. It contains model policies that the group (which includes TCPA, RSPB, National Trust, CPRE, Woodland Trust and Friends of the Earth) would like to see local authorities adopt at a minimum. This has been sent to all local authorities and LEP partners.
Well the snow has now started to come down but I do hope that your Christmas plans aren’t disrupted or delayed and that you all have a Prosperous and of course Sustainable Festive Season and 2011.
There was a SERTAB meeting on the 10th November and you can click here for the SERTAB Meeting Minutes 10 11 10
2) CALA HOMES JUDGEMENT
More on the RSS legal battle
3) NEW BUILDING STANDARDS
Government initiates new building standards for homes
4) PLANS TO AXE PLANNING AID
RTPI reacts to possible axe of Planning Aid
5) NEW TREES FOR ENGLAND
1 million new trees - The government has announced a new partnership to plant one million extra trees across England in the next four years
6) CLIMATE CHANGE ADAPTATION
Cities must take urgent action to avoid the impacts of climate change and growing populations, according to a new report from Forum for the Future. Mega Cities on the Move Report:
7) Localism Bill
a. Friends of the Earth (FoE) has called for a “greener and fairer planning system” ahead of the launch of the Localism Bill in a recent press release
b. Neighbourhood groups will be allowed to take over planning powers from local councils under plans to be unveiled in the Localism Bill.
c. England’s Power Shift 4 Localism and all that latest Friends of the Earth Briefing
8) Local Enterprise Partnerships
Local enterprise partnerships (LEPs) are facing a catch-22 situation over their consultations if they are to be credible, according to an analysis unveiled last week.
Over the last 12 years or so SEFS has done a large amount of work on ensuring sustainability is built in to regional policy. With the demise of SEERA and then the Partnership Board we have written to SE England Councils, the South East Strategic Chief Executives and the South East Strategic Leaders Boards to outline the policies which we believe need to be embedded into the ethos of future planning whether it be at a local level or whether some sort of strategic regional level remerges when all the dust of recent changes has settled. Our overview is outlined below.
Sustainable Development and Environmental Limits
For SEFS, it is vital that environmental sustainability forms a major underpinning principle to spatial planning. Pursuing a genuine “triple bottom line” approach – with clear guidance ensuring that sustainability is achieved through integration of, and not ‘tradeoffs’ between, economic, social and environmental interests and assets – will be crucial. In this context, we are concerned that recent positive steps towards developing policies that enshrine respect for environmental limits (or ‘environmental capacity’) should be continued, with the goal that these become embedded locally.
The South East (SE) has championed the use of ecological footprint, adopting it as an indicator, setting targets for stabilisation and reduction and producing a ‘route map’ to help us get there. The principle has been adopted in recent approaches to both strategic planning and planning for economic development in the South East. SEFS maintains it is essential we continue to take a footprint approach to ensure we take account of our global as well as local environmental impacts.
We believe that climate change should be recognised as the single biggest threat to people, the economy and the natural environment in the South East. As such, it is vital that local policy frameworks acknowledge the need to reduce CO2 emissions and continue taking steps to adapt to the impacts of climate change. In order for this work to have teeth, local authorities should adopt CO2 emission reduction targets (based on consumption as well as production), which should be regularly monitored, reported and reviewed. Without a regional body to monitor and review this work it is unclear how this will continue.
The South East Plan included very positive and forward-looking environmental policies. We believe these need to be fully carried across into the new planning landscape. A key policy is green infrastructure (GI), which we support very strongly. The broad list of multifunctional GI objectives and the accompanying list of assets as set out in the South East Plan represent a good place to start. The South East Green Infrastructure Partnership is continuing to develop guidance and resources to assist the planning community to build on the policy framework initiated under the SE Plan.
Although the shape and pace of new housing developments in the SE will necessarily change as a result of the demise of SE-wide housing targets, we believe it is important that housing policies at a very local level continue to have coherence. Our priorities are set out below and we hope they can be integrated into future local housing development policies.
We believe that policies should bring together sustainability principles in design, construction and location. This means, for example, ensuring that all new homes achieve Sustainable Buildings Code level 4 and refurbishments achieve EcoHomes XB standard, preferably by 2012. We support policies that prioritise the use of local, reclaimed, renewable and recycled materials in construction and also take a sequential approach to land allocation with redundant buildings and brownfield sites being considered before construction on greenfield sites and equally that renovation is considered before demolition and replacement. The principles of respect for environmental limits also apply very strongly to proposed housing developments, including previously developed land with significant actual or potential wildlife interest or community value, which should not be developed. In addition, new developments need to avoid flood plains where this might increase flood risk elsewhere and/or threaten important or potential wildlife sites.
We very much hope that the demise of the SE-wide spatial strategy will not spell the end to the overarching principle of spatial planning. In terms of travel, we believe that taking a planned and proactive approach whereby housing, services, employment opportunities and commercial development are focused in the same location and ensuring that such developments are easily accessible by walking, cycling and public transport will all reduce the need to travel by unsustainable modes.
This includes supporting and developing the role of regional spokes by developing a complementary and integrated network of rail and express bus/coach services, with an additional focus on including a rural dimension which delivers sustainable links between towns and their nearest villages.
In addition, SEFS supports many of the existing transport policies in the South East Plan, and hopes they can be carried through into new plans. In particular we advocate policies which prioritise demand management over provision, and which foster and promote an improved and integrated network of public transport services. We hope policies will encourage development that is located and designed to reduce average journey length.
SEFS is opposed to airport expansion and any policies which are likely to lead to an increase in flights to and from the region.
Natural Resources and Wildlife
We believe that the effective protection and nurturing of natural resources and wildlife for everyone in the SE should be a key component of spatial planning and policy. We need policies locally that will protect and enhance wildlife species and habitats and increase their resilience to climate change impacts. To be effective, local policies need to be developed in the context of wider ambitions to enhance biodiversity assets, most importantly through the reconnection of fragmented habitats. Key areas where habitats have become degraded can and should be targeted for restoration and, to prevent further fragmentation of the region’s key habitats (such as heathlands and chalk grasslands). A blueprint for action has been developed by the South East England Biodiversity Forum as the ‘South East Biodiversity Strategy‘[i]. A core feature of the Strategy is the focus on Biodiversity Opportunity Areas (BOAs) to create links and corridors to support species, habitats and more sophisticated ecological functions to underpin ecosystem services which in turn are vital to social and economic sustainability.
How we manage and use water will become increasingly critical to the SE of England. Climate change, population and development pressures are all compromising our ability to safeguard what is a fundamental natural resource building block. We need policies that will safeguard supply for homes and businesses and also provide for our precious but fragile biodiversity.
SEFS is keen to see local policies that promote flood management and which deliver an integrated approach to planning and land management across whole floodplains and catchments. This will be a challenge without a Regional Spatial Planning mechanism.
More specifically, SEFS advocates a reduction in per capita water consumption by at least 20% by 2016, encouraging more efficient use in homes, buildings and businesses. We also support the promotion of ‘grey water’ use; Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SUDS); and ‘water neutral’ developments (especially in the region’s main growth areas). The rolling out of universal water metering (with suitable protection to vulnerable customers) and the development of a pricing system to reduce waste and reward wise use will form strong elements in meeting water reduction targets.
The UK remains a profligate nation in terms of its ability to generate waste from consumption. SEFS believes that we should pull our weight more strongly and aim to eliminate the concept of waste in the SE. To reach this goal, we believe we need support from policy which aims to: reduce waste generation, eliminate waste flows to landfill and for incineration, facilitate re-use, repair, composting and recycling and promote energy recovery through small scale heat and power plants and composting technologies such as anaerobic digestion.
Agriculture and Food Production
SEFS supports the development of more sustainable food production and distribution across the SE. This includes safeguarding prime agricultural land from housing and other development, and ensuring that new housing developments include access for residents to allotments and/or community gardens. Infrastructure planning should include facilities which support a localised, sustainable food economy such as abattoirs, food hubs, processing units. Retail planning must recognise the value of local and neighbourhood shopping centres and markets as outlets for locally produced food. Procurement should support sustainable food production and the promotion of sustainable diets.
Countryside and Landscape Management
SEFS believes that ensuring access to some of the South East Region’s greatest assets – its woodlands, historic parkland, downs, coast and heaths – should represent a cornerstone of policy. Policy needs to recognise the benefits which the countryside and outstanding landscapes provide, environmentally, economically and socially. To facilitate this, we believe that there should be an overall aim – reflected in all local policy – to protect and enhance the diversity and local distinctiveness of the region’s landscapes. This would include giving priority to our special designated landscapes: AONBs and National Parks.
[i] See http://strategy.sebiodiversity.org.uk/
South East England Partnership Board (SEEPB)
- Has now been dissolved; all remaining staff were made redundant on July 31st.
- The work on the Regional Strategy has been discontinued; supporting evidence will be archived by GOSE and made available (probably through SEEC) to local authorities.
- SEEPB functions are being transferred where appropriate (e.g. secretariat for the Thames Basin Heaths Joint Strategic Partnership now resides with Surrey Heath District Council).
South East England Councils (SEEC)
- South East England Councils (SEEC) was established in April 2009 to represent the views of local authorities in the South East. SEEC represents over 95 per cent of the 74 councils across the South East and is chaired by Cllr Paul Carter (Conservative, Leader of Kent County Council). Cllr Louise Bloom (Liberal Democrat, Eastleigh Borough Council) is Vice-chair. SEEC has a wide remit, which includes providing effective representation of local authority interests on regional, national and international bodies; scrutiny of the activities of regional bodies; and a forum for the consideration and determination of regional issues, including strategic policies and investment priorities.
- SEEC has one member of staff to support their activities and meets regularly once a month. The next meeting is on the 10th September.
- Details about SEEC activities can be found at: www.secouncils.gov.uk
South East Strategic Leaders (SESL) & South East Strategic Chief Executives (SESCE)
- SESL has evolved from the ‘South East County Leaders’ group, formed in 2006 to promote county interests during the SE Plan EiP. SESL comprises local authority Leaders; SESCE is a parallel group of Chief Executives. These two groups cover an extended area (the old SERPlan area) and membership (county, district and unitary authorities)
- SESL aims to deliver an ambitious programme of joint policy development and lobbying at all levels – national, regional and local. Specific aims are to:
- influence national and regional policy
- establish networks and key contacts at the regional and national level
- offer support and an innovative policy forum for joint working across the South East
- raise the profile of the South East Strategic Leaders and their work
- The group works by issuing news releases and producing common ‘South East’ positions on key policy initiatives of the coalition government (see http://www3.hants.gov.uk/sesl.htm). In effect, this is the closest thing there is to an active regional body. Hampshire CC provides support services (including an area on their website); Surrey CC Leader and CEO were elected in July as chairs of SESL and SESCE, respectively.
South East England Development Agency (SEEDA)
- Closure of all the RDAs has been announced
- Local authorities have until September to submit proposals for replacement ‘Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs)’ So far it looks as though each county wants to set up their own LEP.
- The Public Bodies Bill which will provide the legislative basis for abolishing RDAs and any other public body will be introduced in the autumn, but Royal Assent is not expected until summer 2011 at the earliest. Government has not yet decided the closure time line for RDAs although it has set up a backstop date of 31st March 2012.
- SEEDA has a programme budget cut of £28.2 million for 2010-11
- SEEDA still has a programme budget of £79m to spend this financial year and is working with partners and stakeholders to achieve the most for the region’s economy from this .An outline of the budget priorities (and cut backs can be seen in a letter from Pam Alexander on the SEFS website):
Government Office of the South East (GOSE)
- Eric Pickles announced in July the Government’s intention in principle to abolish the remaining eight Government Offices of the Regions across England, although final decisions will be made at the end of the Spending Review in the autumn
- The GOSE websites has been merged with a Government Office Network website (http://www.gos.gov.uk/).
The Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review
- Will be announced on 20th October 2010.
- A public consultation (for public sector workers and the public generally) was launched on 24th June 2010 asking for views on where cuts should be made.
Regional Government Departments & Agencies
- Most government departments will be expected to cut budgets by an average of 25% over the next 3 years
- Defra and the Defra family (Natural England, Forestry Commission and the Environment Agency) will be affected. The Environment Agency is undergoing a major structural review and is expected to merge its Southern Region and Thames Region, but there will are more/bigger changes anticipated for EA. Natural England has merged its South East and London regional offices. This is likely to be a temporary/transitional measure since it appears that NE will be ‘de-regionalised’ (in part responding to the switch from regionalism to localism, in part in response to the expected 30-40% budget cut). Forestry Commission is planning for at least 30% cuts and will not have any money for programme work or partnerships.
- There are suggestions that CABE & English Heritage might be merged.
South East Regional Rural Board, Rural Forum for the South East & Sustainable Food and Farming Board
- The SE Rural Board will not meet again and is to amalgamate with the Rural Forum assuming the RF agrees.
- Rural Forum has finance up until the end of March 2011 (Defra has paid GOSE the £20K towards the operation of the Forum for this financial year) and so does the Sustainable Food and Farming Board. However their futures are under review by ministers. The Rural Board is closing immediately because of the demise of SEEDA who run its secretariat.
- The Government has announced that they agree with the principle and themes within the Food 2030 document and are currently working on a suitable implementation plan, and considering how the regional boards could help with its delivery. This is now being referred to as the Food Strategy.
- The Rural Forum next meets on 15th September 2010 and the next meeting with the new minister is scheduled for 21st September 2010
South East Rural Community Councils (SERCC)
- SERCC have appointed an Interim Chief Executive, Neil Casey
- With the existing political uncertainty about regional structures and delivery, the SERCC Board are using the opportunity of an interim executive appointment to undertake a review of the organisation over the next three months.
- During this review SERCC will continue to deliver all its projects.
- Council for Rural Communities has been disbanded
South East Region Technical Advisory Body for Waste (SERTAB)
SERTAB meetings are planned for the autumn with a workshop due to take place on the 4th October to consider the “SERTAB__Role_and_Action_Plan“. It has also been proposed that a SERTAB response is collated and sent to DEFRA on its “Path to Zero Waste economy” consultation. Hampshire County Council is currently supplying secretariat for SERTAB.
- DEFRA is withdrawing funding from the Sustainable Development Commission at the end of the current financial year.
- DEFRA SD Unit will take SD forward, assuming it survives DEFRA cuts.
- The government is due to radically reform the planning system on the basis of the Open Source Planning green paper. The aim is to “decentralise and streamline the planning system and allow it to focus on promoting sustainable development that local communities want.”
- The Planning System changes are (according to the DCLG Structural Reform Plan) due to take place over the next year and be in place by April 2012
- Planning Policy Statements – According to the Open Source Planning green paper the need for existing Policy Statements (and PPGs) ”will be evaluated and those required will be re-ordered and aligned in order to reflect the national priorities, as determined by Parliament. The result will be a series of short and focused guidance notes describing how specific aspects of the planning system will operate to deliver the government’s agenda and setting out minimum environmental, architectural, economic and social standards for sustainable development. These will support the overarching National Policy Framework
- All revisions of PPSs has been halted; the PPS on Regional Spatial Strategies has been withdrawn.
Other Regional Environmental Fora
- East Midlands Environment Link is organising a meeting of all regions to discuss:
- What is the function of future regional environment links and how do we fit with the new architecture?
- What will be the future of strategic planning?
- How, in this new structure, can we help maintain gains around sustainable development?
- How do we respond to Big Society thinking and maintain strategic perspectives?
- North West Environment Link – Is hoping run an event in the North West on the challenges and opportunities to the environmental VCS of the big society concept, and also to have at least introduced themselves to the new LEPs to see if they can develop some kind of working relationships with them.
NEED FOR REGIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL NETWORK IN SOUTH EASTERN ENGLAND
The view amongst SEFS P&EC members (and some external organisations to SEFS) is that even with the demise of regional level planning policy as we know it, there is still a need for a strong, SE (or wider) network of environmental organisations to ensure:
1) Information sharing
2) Support and overview policy input to help those working at sub regional/local level
3) Liaison with remaining regional bodies (SE England Councils, SE Strategic Leaders and SE Strategic Chief Executives).
The new coalition has hit the ground running and proposed changes are already starting to happen here’s a summary of where we’re at in the South East (we will be discussing this further at our general meeting on 15th June)
Current Situation Relating to Regional Planning
1) The Partnership Board is being wound up on 31st July. The Planning Panel meeting scheduled for 7 June and Housing and Regeneration Board meeting scheduled for 9 June have been cancelled.
2) However, a meeting of the Transport Board on 11 June will still take place so local authorities can agree transport investment priorities ahead of a Government spending review in the autumn.
3) Details of whether a final Partnership Board meeting scheduled for 2 July will go ahead or not will be announced soon.
4) All planning responsibilities will now be devolved to county, unitary and district councils, working within a national framework.
5) But on 16 June, South East England Councils will meet in London to discuss how local authorities will continue to address issues, such as the need for investment in infrastructure, that require cross border cooperation.
6) SEEDA is in discussion with local authority leaders about the future.
7) The Regional Stakeholders Conference planned for 2nd July has been cancelled
8) As announced in the Queens Speech under the Decentralisation and Localism Bill the Government will:
a) Abolish Regional Spatial Strategies.
b) Return decision-making powers on housing and planning to local councils.
c) Abolish the Infrastructure Planning Commission and replace it with an efficient and democratically accountable system that provides a fast-track process for major infrastructure projects.
d) Create Local Enterprise Partnerships to replace Regional Development Agencies, described as “joint local authority-business bodies brought forward by local authorities to promote local economic development”
9) The TCPA has published a document on the future of planning. This raise concerns about the abolition of RSS and what needs to be developed to improve/replace it.
11) However, Eric Pickles has written to councils advising them that the government intends to rapidly abolish RSS and that “Consequently decisions on housing supply (including the provision of travellers sites) will rest with Local Planning Authorities without the framework of regional numbers and plans. “
You’d think perhaps that this photo is pre-emptive of the weather forecast for the South East for the next few days. Actually it was taken in the February cold snap this year. Snow on the beach was quite an unusual sight.
2009 has been quite an unusual year in many ways. SEERA as you all know has been abolished. To be replaced with the South East Partnership board. SEFS no longer has guaranteed seats and it has been a battle to find our niche so we can continue input to regional policy, in particular the development of the Regional Strategy. However there is a realisation that stakeholders need to be involved in the Strategy’s development and we are hoping that the New Year will see things moving forward on a positive footing.
Work has started on the development of the Regional Strategy and the Partnership Board has published a project plan. SEFS is aiming to comment on this before the Partnership Board agrees it in the Spring. Along side this the Sustainability Appraisal is being developed and Christine Drury with Ian Hepburn’s help will be ensuring SEFS is fully engaged with this process.
We hope the work SEFS does in relation to the Regional Strategy will be able to be as effective as our engagement with the South East Plan. It remains to be seen whether the Partnership Board is willing to take sustainability issues seriously but we were pleased to notice the Board has recently published a Climate Change feature on its website.
To keep up to date with Partnership Board news you can subscribe via their website to regular news updates.
Community Action on Sustainability and Low Carbon
At the AGM in October it was inspiring to hear about action taking place on the ground to develop low carbon and sustainable communities through the presentations from Jacinta Thorley from the South East Rural Communities Council and Fiona Wellings from the Greening Campaign.
There is so much going on in the the region and Climate South East are currently doing a survey of activity to try and get a detailed picture of what is happening and what support is required. The survey takes a few minutes to complete and is online until Wednesday 23rd. Please do add your details to help build as complete a picture as possible of all activity in the South East.
Local Transport Plans Round 3 (LTP3s)
SEFS has always had an active involvement in regional transport issues and this continues with our monitoring of the new round of LTPs. These are being developed now as I write by your local council. You can read more about them and what groups are already doing to influence them in the LTP post. SEFS isn’t able to engage with all the LTPs around the region but we hope to be able to share help, advice and case studies as we gather them.
SEFS General Meeting
Usually SEFS has a General Meeting in March/April time. However, P&EC has decided that it might be more helpful to have the next one in June after the election. The provisional date is 15th June so please pencil this into your diaries. There will be more information in the New Year.
There are two RAISE events coming up which may be of interest Tuesday 23rd March (Central London) Third Sector Engagement with Local Strategic Partnerships and Wednesday 3rd March VCS Health and Social Care Event (Guildford). Details for both can be found on the RAISE website
FORWARD TO 2010
2010 promises to be another challenging one for SEFS, the Partnership Board will be more established and SEFS will be working with other stakeholders to ensure strong representation. Where we can we will engage in the development of the new Regional Strategy. However, no one is quite sure what the general election will bring. A change of parliament could mean a whole new system of governance is introduce. SEFS will continue to network while members still feel there is a value in us doing so (which at the AGM we were given to believe there was), and while we still have the financial resources and time to do this. Do continue to support SEFS by renewing your membership using the SefsMembershipForm. However, please note P&EC has decided that there is a need for us to increase our standard fees slightly as these have not changed for 10 years. Don’t let this put you off though, all donations, small and large will be gratefully received. Reminders will be sent out in March.
We are grateful to SEEDA for the financial support they have given us over the last 2 years, to Surrey Wildlife Trust for providing financial administration and employing me, and now to the Environment Centre who as of the beginning of December are now providing that service.
I hope you all have a good Christmas and a Prosperous New Year.