10th February 2010

Regional Spatial Strategy and Development in the Green Belt

Under the terms of the Draft Regional Spatial Strategy which was produced by the now defunct South West Regional Assembly, Bournemouth Borough Council could be forced to build 1,500 new homes on the Green Belt right through the heart of our Forum area. Forum has joined a Consortium of other Bournemouth and other Local Authorities, the CPRE and organisations to fight development in the Green Belt throughout Dorset, and a successful High Court challenge by the East of England to their Spatial Strategy, has delayed the final publication of ours.

On 2nd February, 2010, Phil Robinson, Planning Conservation and Design Officer, sent the following e-mail:-

I have had a word with colleagues inside the authority and our agreed view is that the chances of anything like a final RSS coming out before the election in May is slim at best (or is that worst) to impossible if it is considered that some more publicity is required. Work is still being undertaken at the regional level on the technical aspects of this document and the conclusions of this work is not expected for some time (dates vary between later this month and March)

Even if there is not a snap election I cannot see that there would be time to go through all the necessary processes before a May election.

I will write to colleagues in Poole and Dorset to see if they have heard anything different but I am not expecting that they will have.

Phil Robinson

If we have a change of Government at the next election, the RSS will be scrapped, but the Regional Assemblies have been replaced by even less accountable, Regional Development Agencies, which may cause us to fight again in the future.

Our local M.P. Tobias Ellwood, has been keeping his ear to the ground in Parliament and has tabled some Parliamentary Questions. Tobias.... anything to add?

From: press@cpre.org.uk

To: ts@terencestewart.plus.com

Sent: Wednesday, November 11, 2009 1:37 PM

Subject: CPRE: Environmental protection should be at the heart of future regional planning

Campaign to Protect Rural England

For immediate release

An exclusive pursuit by the Government of economic growth could have dire costs for the countryside, and the wider environment. This is CPRE’s [1] warning as the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Bill, which reforms regional planning, becomes law this week [2].

New regional Strategies, provided for by the Bill, will set out how many new homes should be built, where they should go, and the transport links and economic development needed to support them. Such decisions will have major environmental implications, not least for efforts to reduce carbon emissions.

Adam Royle, Parliamentary Officer at CPRE, said:

‘For the first time, the Local Democracy Act will give Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) – unelected bodies - a lead role in planning for land use.

‘In Parliament, Ministers have focused on the economic benefits the new approach will bring, but at what cost to the environment?

‘The ‘mission creep’ of the economically focused RDAs is worrying. We have argued for stronger controls so that when the new Regional Strategies are drawn up, they can ensure that the economic policies take full account of environmental impact.

‘Current plans for England’s regions have been beset by legal challenges and delays [3], because local communities do not feel that planned numbers of new houses are either achievable or environmentally sustainable.’

Adam Royle concluded:

‘We need more affordable homes and low carbon development. The challenge for Government is to ensure new regional plans promote a sustainable way of securing these, and necessary associated infrastructure, developed in genuine partnership with those living and working in the area.’

- END -

Notes to Editors

  • CPRE, the Campaign to Protect Rural England, is a charity which promotes the beauty, tranquillity and diversity of rural England. We advocate positive solutions for the long-term future of the countryside. Founded in 1926, we have 60,000 supporters and a branch in every county. President: Bill Bryson. Patron: Her Majesty The Queen. www.cpre.org.uk
  • The Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act will reform regional planning. It will integrate the Regional Spatial and Regional Economic Strategies to form a single Regional Strategy, abolish Regional Assemblies and pass responsibility for regional planning to the Regional Development Agencies and local authorities.
  • In May aspects of the East of England Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS) were successfully challenged in the case City and District Council of St Albans v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (20th May 2009) The High Court found in favour of the claimant in certain areas covered by the strategy, because the environmental report did not identify, describe and evaluate reasonable alternatives to the housing polices in those areas (http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2009/1280.html). This decision has led to a delay in the Government finalising the South West RSS. There have also been six legal challenges to the South East RSS.