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News in Brief: Scottish council calls for planning reforms to boost local economy; local plan expert group calls for evidence

Words: Laura Edgar
St Andrews, Fife

A round-up of planning news: Tuesday 29 September, 2015

Scottish council calls for planning reforms to boost local economy

Fife Council is calling for the planned reforms to the Scottish planning system to help boost the local economy. Following a Scottish Government announcement that it will conduct a consultation to improve development plans, Fife Council has launched a survey for local people, communities and businesses to have a say on the future of development planning. The feedback will then be shared with the Scottish Government as part of the council’s response to the national consultation on streamlining planning policy and procedures as well as being used to improve its own planning processes. Lesley Laird, deputy leader and spokesperson for economy and planning, said:  “The planning system is used to make decisions about the development and use of land in our villages, towns and countryside. Our survey aims to gain feedback from local people to help us better understand people’s views and help shape our input on the future direction of planning. An overhaul of Scotland’s planning system offers opportunities to review town centre regeneration, the redevelopment of brownfield sites and put local democracy back at the heart of the planning process.” Fife Council’s ‘Your Place, Your Views’ can be found here.

Local plan expert group calls for evidence

The new local plan panel, put together to “streamline” the plan-making process, is calling for evidence. Launched by Brandon Lewis earlier this month, the group has now met for the first time and has decided to invite views from the planning and property industry, local government and other stakeholders “to assist its consideration of the issues”. The principal headings for responses are: content of local plans; local plan preparation process; agreeing strategic requirements; implementation; observations and other. The group said all views are welcome, with all relevant matters open for review. Submissions should be addressed to [email protected] The deadline is Friday 23 October. More information can be found here.

• Any queries about this call for evidence or the work of the group should be directed to the Secretariat [email protected]

Planning is a means to growth and prosperity, shadow minister tells fringe event

The RTPI and the Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation (CIHT) hosted a fringe event during the Labour Party Conference in Brighton yesterday. Both Labour’s shadow housing and planning minister Roberta Blackman-Woods and Clive Betts, chair of the Communities and Local Government Select Committee, spoke on how planning and transport can deliver the infrastructure the UK needs. Blackman-Woods said planning is a means to the growth and prosperity that the UK needs. Betts spoke broadly about the devolution of various powers and responsibilities to local authorities, noting that the UK Government has accepted in principle that planning should fit within functional economic areas. RTPI chief executive Trudi Elliott called for proper appraisal of transport projects. She referred to the recommendations made in the RTPI’s Transport Infrastructure Investment policy paper as well as a range of forthcoming policy and research publications investigating local planning authority resourcing and the location of housing in relation to infrastructure. The RTPI attended the Liberal Democrat Party Conference last week and will be attending the Conservative Party Conference from 4-7 October.

Housing is a human right for all, says Green Party

Members of the Green Party have voted to affirm housing as a basic human right at the party conference. The conference also backed the Housing First approach, which will explore innovative ways to tackle homelessness. It will, according to the Greens, provide people experiencing homelessness with accommodation as quickly as possible, as well as offering other services such as substance abuse and mental health treatment. Party leader Natalie Bennett said:“We know that this government doesn’t have a handle on homelessness in England. The number of homeless people here has risen by 12 per cent to 67,000, a shameful figure. Too many offers of housing exclude the most vulnerable - we need to cater for all.”

Community involvement pledge for Manydown

The northern part of Manydown, bordering the western side of Basingstoke, Berkshire, is proposed as the site for around 3,400 new homes in the area’s draft local plan up to 2029. The plan is due to be examined by a planning inspector next month. As joint owners of a 999-year lease of the land, Basingstoke and Dean Borough Council and Hampshire County Council are drawing up plans for the development alongside the community if the local plan is approved. The plan is to create a new community of “connected neighbourhoods developed in a well-planned and coordinated way”, according to Basingstoke and Dean Borough Council. The borough council’s cabinet member leading on Manydown, Cllr John Izett, said: “We have a great opportunity at Manydown, as well as a responsibility as public owners, to create a new community where people will want to live and which is well connected to and brings benefits to neighbouring communities and respects the local environment. It is central to our thinking and approach that local people will be involved in helping to shape Manydown. There needs to be a choice of housing with roads, schools, open spaces and other amenities in place. Both councils are committed to Manydown for the long term and wish to ensure a successful new community grows up founded on well-planned, energy-efficient homes that are built to last and to be loved in the years ahead."