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Planning, development & economic growth

Planning, development & economic growth

Planning is a critical issue in the South East. Local authorities are working to make the system effective and are playing their part by giving planning permissions which open the route to developments, that in turn support economic growth.

SEEC welcomed the Government’s aims of removing unnecessary bureaucracy and reducing top-down control in the planning system when it abolished regional planning.  We also support the need for effective sustainable development, to ensure economic, social and environmental needs are met.

Past work has included:

  • In January 2018 SEEC called on South East MPs and Ministers to support changes that would help councils deliver the homes and infrastructure their residents need. The SEEC briefing asks MPs to support three key policy changes that would enable councils to deliver: More powers to get unused planning permissions moving and to invest in local infrastructure are needed alongside a review of proposed new housing need figures.
  • In November 2017, SEEC’s response to CLG consultation ‘Planning for the right homes in the right places’ called for a review of Governments proposed new housing need methodology to avoid unintended consequences that could hinder councils’ work to deliver new homes. SEEC supports the aim of building the “right homes in the right places,” but raises serious member concerns, given some unexpected results in the South East. SEEC members question the soundness of Government’s proposed affordability criteria and call for factors such as land use, environmental constraints and development capacity to be included in baseline need calculations. Government should also make clear that any reduced need figures do not take precedence over locally-led higher-growth plans.
  • In April 2017, SEEC’s response to the Housing White Paper consultation argued further tools and freedoms are needed to enable councils to meet any new delivery test and help support the delivery of new homes. It also called on Government to work with councils to ensure the transition to White Paper proposals avoids causing delays or immediate reviews to Local Plans, or creating uncertainty for developers.
  • SEEC made the case for new powers to help councils speed up the delivery of housing and supporting infrastructure in its January 2017 report ‘Unlock the housing blockers‘.
  • In November 2016 SEEC made the case for local control of skills funding and support for SME builders in its input to a CLG Select Committee Inquiry into homebuilding industry capacity.
  • SEEC’s response in July 2016 to the CLG Select Committee Inquiry into the Local Plans Expert Group Report expressed disappointment at the lack of measures to enable councils to incentivise developers to build quickly.
  • Responding to the DCGL’s New Homes Bonus Consultation in March 2016 SEEC argued for NHB to be paid on all homes and to continue for as long as possible.
  • SEEC made the case for increased council powers to invest in housing and to incentivise developers to build quickly in response to a National Planning Policy consultation in February 2016.
  • In October 2015 SEEC responded to a Local Plans Expert Panel call for Evidence arguing for more local control to overcome the barriers to housing delivery.
  • Support for the Taylor Review of planning to reduce and streamline central guidance. Read our input here.

The principles underpinning our work on planning cover the need to address uncertainty and conflict between different parties involved in planning and the importance of democratically-accountable local decision-making. SEEC members believe local government can provide leadership and skills to ensure the planning system delivers sustainable development, but only if given effective freedoms, powers and resources.