Community Forward Planning

If you read many of the ideas or concerns posed it relates to integrating public interaction with the planning system without negating the speed, efficiency and effectiveness of decision making. The principle of a plan led system for me is sound but I do feel that Local Development Plans are detached from the community they plan for are often bogged down in policy and housing numbers rather than providing community benefit or innovative thinking. When the Planning Etc 2006 Act was being discussed there was a concept that LDP's would be light on policy and that SG's would give us the weight and meat for decision making. I am finding however that LDP's are still substantial documents that take forever to complete.

My idea would be to have an almost two tier LDP. The policies should be specifically land based stating what is acceptable in each land use area i.e what you can do in the countryside, white land, employment land etc. In reality these are dictated by national policy and Strategic Policy largely anyway with some local context. The detail of these should be provided through SG. The policies in theory should require less work to revise particularly if the SG has the bulk of the detail. The policy tier therefore would not need to be revised as regularly as current LDP's. The SG's can be revised as often as necessary with public consultation to suit and then ratification with the Scottish Ministers if necessary.

The other tier would be land allocation. With the policies less burdensome more time can be spent on getting this right. The strategic plans should have more interaction with the local authorities they allocate for and should have more interaction with the public. Instead of just allocating numbers the strategic plans should have thought of where in the authority areas housing numbers etc should go based on their research on demand etc and discussion with the authority. Once an authority has been given their allocation they would have more time for interaction with the communities. Local Plan(ners) can approach communities stating we have to achieve this amount of housing in your area and here is why and here are our options and thoughts what are your thoughts and concerns. This could be after the call for sites to see what land is available in an area. They could be invited to actively be involved in the site selection process. With the current process the housing land supply is just a figure to meet for either all the authority or parts of the authority without any focus of smaller areas. If the allocation numers were broken up further and allocated to smaller areas or communities this can provide certainty and the knowledge to communities of what the authority is trying to achieve. With a bit more certainty over what needs to be achieved communities may understand better rather than being told a developer has proposed a site in your town and we think it is a good idea. This process can be given more resource by authorities with the policy aspect on a longer rotation. This would introduce better community engagement, potentially reduce burden at application stage and speed up the process and let communities plan their towns and cities to their needs and desires. If the community engagement is done right here then the application process can be sped up. I am not saying this would be 100% effective as you would still have NIMBYism where sites will still need to be agreed contrary to communities wishes but at least they will have been more involved in the process.

This is all put very simply and there would be a lot of detail needed but there seems to be a lot of time wasted on policies when these are largely consistent with agreed  national or strategic policy and fighting over sites at the LDP stage without much proper community engagement.

Why the contribution is important

There needs to be a balance struck between community engagement and speeding up the planning process and making effective decisions. This method would potentially seperate the policy making side of the LDP from the site selection side so that they do not burden one another. By doing this direct consultation can be undertaken with communities on what tends to worry them most - site selection while they would still be free to comment on policy and supplementary guidance where they felt it necessary.

by shando on February 05, 2016 at 08:44PM

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Comments

  • Posted by cheng February 05, 2016 at 21:07

    What's this obsession with speed?
    The planning system is in a big enough mess at the speed it is already going.
    Act in haste repent at leisure. Just look at Aberdeen.
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