HomeWhat's NewSEEC NewsWider South East Update May 2017

Wider South East Update May 2017

Wider South East update

SEEC’s occasional update on our work with London and the East of England

May 2017


Influencing the new London Plan

The 31 March Wider South East Political Steering Group (PSG) meeting saw GLA outline its early thinking on the new London Plan. SEEC representatives committed to write to Deputy Mayor Jules Pipe and Mayor Sadiq Khan to highlight opportunities and challenges that arise from the growth pressures in both the South East and London.

Formal consultation on the new London Plan is due to take place in the autumn. Wider South East focused policies currently being considered by the GLA include: the potential for areas to work with London to deliver housing in return for help securing infrastructure investment; possible relocation of industry and employment to areas outside London to free-up land for housing; and joint work to lobby Government for strategic transport infrastructure.

In discussion, a number of South East issues were raised including:

*   The need for the earliest possible information on any expected gap between London’s housing supply and demand.
*   Whether London needs to review Green Belt for development, as many South East authorities already have to do the same.
*   Incentives to encourage brownfield development.
*   The need for strategic transport investment to support economic growth both inside and outside London, by including orbital schemes and not just commuter routes into/out of London.
*   The need to focus any displaced jobs or housing outside London boundaries in areas with willing partners where development will complement local growth ambitions and provide local benefits.

SEEC representatives will write to Jules Pipe and Sadiq Khan, setting out high level principles to help inform any Wider South East focussed policies in the draft London Plan expected later this year.


Tackling the barriers to housing delivery

PSG discussions recognised some issues raised by the WSE had been acknowledged by the Housing White Paper, in particular the large number of unimplemented planning permissions. However PSG members agreed councils need more tools to drive delivery.  

In January, WSE representatives wrote to Gavin Barwell, calling for powers to ensure the backlog of unimplemented planning permissions is built. In particular, the letter called for mechanisms to set out an agreed level of progress to be achieved by a developer over a specified period. Failure to meet the required targets would allow Council Tax or an equivalent to be levied.

PSG members agreed the measures outlined in the Housing White Paper will not deliver the full range of financial carrots and sticks needed by councils to ensure developers build permitted homes more quickly. Without further powers, it is likely the proposed delivery test for councils will not work.

Other points raised in discussion included:

*   Transitional arrangements are needed to protect councils with recently submitted Local Plans or in late-stage development, to avoid the need for immediate plan reviews.
*   Clarification is needed on how the new Statement of Common Ground will work and how it differs from the current Duty to Co-operate.
*   Councils need more funding and powers to provide enough affordable homes and transport infrastructure. This should include help to deliver modular (kit) homes at scale and ways to ensure a more joined up approach to infrastructure funding by Government and utilities.
*   The White Paper’s 20% increase in planning fees is needed to fund existing core planning, rather than improvements.

PSG members agreed to respond to the White Paper in the form of a letter to Gavin Barwell, highlighting these priority issues.


Strategic infrastructure investment  

PSG members have agreed a phased programme of influencing for key strategic transport investments based on 13 priority schemes endorsed by representatives at the December 2016 Wider South East Summit.

PSG members agreed to focus the WSE work on strategic high-level lobbying for the 13, rather than detailed scheme development work, which is the responsibility of local and other partners.

The 13 priority schemes could unlock significant housing and economic growth across the South East as well as reducing congestion, lowering environmental impacts and improving the quality of life for millions of residents.

Points raised by members in discussion included:

*   The need to push some infrastructure stakeholders for greater engagement with WSE – Highways England and Network Rail in particular.
*   Western and southern access to Heathrow – both priority schemes – are needed in advance of any proposed airport expansion and should be self-financing.
*   PSG should reflect on the best use of existing and planned infrastructure, for example by considering the role of franchises such as South Eastern.

After the June General Election, a joint WSE letter will set out the case for strategic transport investment in the WSE and request a meeting with DfT Ministers. The letter will also be used as the basis of a phased strategic programme to influence other stakeholders such as Highways England, Network Rail and National Infrastructure Commission. WSE members will also target a joint response to Government’s consultation on the draft Airports National Policy Statement.


News Roundup

2017 Meeting dates set
The next PSG meeting will be held on 29 September 2017. The 2017 Wider South East Summit will be held on 24 November. Summit invitations for council leaders and LEP chairmen will be sent out later in the year.

WSE to consider water supply issues
Following a suggestion that water provision is an important issue across the WSE and should be brought into the work programme, members agreed that relevant stakeholders should be invited to the next WSE Officer Working Group to discuss water supply.

GLA to share new demographic projections
GLA is producing population/household projections for the whole of England. These could be a factor for councils to consider alongside the ONS/CLG official projections in local plan preparation. The data will be released shortly along with explanatory notes. Outside London, ONS/CLG data remains the official starting point for Local Plan making, while local authorities await more detail on a new standardised housing need methodology proposed in the Housing White Paper.