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09/11/2015

Up-to-date evidence is ‘vital’ for planning office space

Words: Laura Edgar

New research finds that local authorities and enterprise groups are relying on dated evidence to inform local plans and the supply of land for employment uses – putting space for new offices at risk.

Planning consultancy Turley undertook a survey of the information held by 326 local authorities across England and found that half were relying on employment land evidence that predates the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) published in 2012. Of those authorities that have published a local plan, 60 per cent used evidence that predated the framework.

The report, The land that time forgot: Planning for employment land (pdf), states that such evidence “is no longer fit for purpose, and fails to respond to investor, developer and occupier requirements as they currently exist”.

Turley said using old data means local authorities are making decisions with “little real idea of current and future need”, which could lead to a shortage of land for new commercial use, given the number of housing sites needed.

Additionally, Local Enterprise Partnership areas, including those in the Thames Valley, and across parts of the Northern Powerhouse, rely on some of the oldest evidence, according to the planning consultancy.

David Smith, head of business space at Turley, said: “It is vital that planning for offices, logistics and other commercial uses is not overlooked in the dash to build more homes. For the UK to be a strong, growing economy we need an approach which provides space for workplaces as well as homes and this can only be done effectively if local authorities have up-to-date evidence on which to base their decision-making. This is about economic success and about creating balanced communities in which people can live and work.

“The UK is competing in a global marketplace and we want to continue to attract organisations from across the world to come here, create jobs and contribute to our economic success. Many local authorities are effectively competing with ‘one hand tied behind their back’ by using outdated information of very limited use.”

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