R:UK IN-DEPTH: post election planning

Wed 4 August 2010, 9:47 am

Barton Willmore comments on the planning changes faced by the regeneration community under the coalition Government, exclusively for R:UK.
Major changes to the English system for town and country planning are under way just as Reading and its neighbouring authorities are set to commence delivery of key elements of planned growth.
As one of the UK's leading planning and design consultancies Reading’s Barton Willmore is closely following changes at the national level, while assisting many Thames Valley clients in the planning, design and delivery of development schemes.
Senior partner Ian Tant explained: "After four years of hard work and debate, the South East Plan - the Regional Spatial Strategy for the South East of England - was approved by the last government in May 2009. Now, after just a year, the plan has been revoked by the new coalition government, leaving Reading Borough Council and its neighbours to pick up the pieces in setting a strategic framework for the town and its environs.

"Still identified as a New Growth Point and with a significant commitment to growth in its economy and housing, Reading and its surroundings cannot simply abandon their growth plans and must continue to meet the needs of Greater Reading and its economy. 

"The government has of course handed the councils a real opportunity to take closer control of their destinies in terms of planning and development but substantial responsibilities ride with this, not least because the government has yet to provide any clear guidance on the transitional arrangements for the new planning system. 

"The coalition government is keen to remove the regional tier of planning and to end the 'top down' imposition of housing and growth targets on councils but the revocation of the Regional Spatial Strategies has removed the only strategic planning policies for the Thames Valley. It will undoubtedly take time for new arrangements and policies to be put in place - but in the meantime housing need and economic growth can't be shelved. It would be good to see the councils working together to avoid any hiatus in the delivery of much-needed development.

"I’d emphasise, however, that for anyone looking to push forward with development over the coming months there is plenty of opportunity to deliver schemes of all types based on the established core strategies and related policies in Reading and Wokingham and the emerging core strategy for West Berkshire. Continued activity in planning and development will be critical to Reading's continued stability and growth and to the financial wellbeing of our councils and communities.

"We will be keeping a close eye on how things develop with the coalition government and hope to keep all our clients and contacts up to date with the changes and the opportunities these present as they emerge"

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