PAS Bulletin: July 2020

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July 2020

Planning Advisory Service

July 2020

I'm really pleased to welcome Joanna Averley into her role of chief planner and we look forward to working closely with her. 

The work to deliver plans, decisions, homes and our great places continues as local authority planning services continue to flex, innovate and cope amid the impacts of COVID-19, the legislative changes announced in the Business and Planning Bill, and the speculation as we wait for further announcements in the near future for what is being trailed  as ‘the biggest reforms to the planning system since the second world war’.  

As PAS looks to the immediate future, we are embedding our online and virtual support for the coming year. We've smartened up our website, are adapting our support offers to include the virtual world, and the PAS team continues to deliver online training sessions, seminars, workshops, reviews and advice to both officers and councillors. 

Please remember we are here to help so in these testing times so please don't hesitate to get in touch at

Anna Rose
Head of PAS

New website launch

A few months ago our sponsors at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) did a quick survey of a few councils to find out what you thought of us. They heard almost entirely glowing reviews (which we won't crow about) but there was a criticism of our website. Apparently, we have let it slide over the last couple of years, leaving it a bit of a jumble and parts of it quite out of date. 

We recognised this as fair comment, so during lockdown we set ourselves the task of fixing it. Our revamped website is now ready for inspection. We have reorganised it to make things easier to find, and we have archived pages that are no longer relevant. A website is never "finished" but we hope you can find what you need. We will also use this bulletin to announce new content. 

Over the next few months, you will see more on the Infrastructure Funding Statement, an update to our Housing Delivery Test Action Plan, using digital to publicise planning applications and a case study on public engagement for planning policy. We are also updating our advice for councillors sitting on a virtual planning committee. As always, if you need something from us let us know and we'll see what we can do. 

Workshops and guidance: Housing Delivery Test Action Plans

Did your authority score below 95 per cent in the 2019 Housing Delivery Test? Do you need support in the final stages of preparing your Action Plan ready for publication by 13 August 2020? If so, we still have spaces available at our virtual workshops taking place over the next couple of weeks, so please do sign up if you think we can help. 

We are also updating our advice note on preparing effective Action Plans. The note will be available on our website this week and includes a series of top tips taken from experience to date. Even if you are not required to publish an Action Plan, we are learning that it can be an effective tool in helping you understand your delivery position as well as potential responses to the COVID-19 impacts on delivery.

PAS councillor training 2020/21

As we look to continue our regular support, later in the year we are delivering three of our LGA Leadership Essentials councillor training sessions in Warwick. They'll be delivered in person to delegates who wish to attend and we'll be trialling access online to those who wish to dial in. 

  • How to run a good planning committee - for committee chairs and vice-chairs: 29/30 October 2020 and 4/5 March 2021
  • Planning Update- for leading planning councillors: 5/6 November 2020

To find out more or to book a place, please contact: 

Local Plan digital project

During lockdown we were part of an 'alpha' run by MHCLG's digital land team. We supported dxw in a project designed to work out how some of the data in local plans might be standardised. 

On a personal level, PAS team members Steve and Richard learned lots about this modern way of working (and slack, and miro), and we are also grateful to some of the friends and peers who volunteered their time and knowledge. It was good work and we'd do it again in a flash. 

You can see the summary page on MHCLG's website. The enormous end of alpha report is published as a google doc. We ended the alpha with some really promising recommendations that put digital in the heart of policy-making - and not just standards around timetables and policies but also how they are expressed spatially. Repeat after us: "The next version of our local plan will not be a pdf".

Guest blog: Plan Making and the Climate Change Emergency - Central Lincolnshire

Inspired by Martin's blog in our last newsletter, Toby Forbes-Turner, Planning Policy Manager at City of Lincoln, shares his thoughts and outlines how planners in Central Lincoln are tackling climate change while reviewing their Local Plan

PAS and LGA webinar: Planning through the pandemic: 13 July 2020

Through the LGA we are delivering a one-hour webinar on how planning services have adapted to COVID-19 to continue to accept, consider and make decisions on planning applications. It will be an opportunity to hear from Derek McKenzie, Sefton Council, on how it has had to re-consider its way of working. There will also be a short update from MHCLG.

It’s free to all LGA member councils. The webinar takes place on 13 July 2020, 10.00am - 11.00am. Book your place on Planning: Development Management – COVID-19 and beyond.

LDO re-announcement

There is (was?) lots of talk about zoning recently and how it might be used to somehow "fix" the planning system. Of course, there is already lots of zoning in the English planning system; from site allocations to green belts. One sort of zoning that we have always been quite keen on is the Local Development Order (LDO). 

In case you missed it we published an update to our case study on LDOs just over a year ago. There is a general guide to them as well as a "warts and all" review of 10 real LDOs with some honest reflections on what worked well and what people learned along the way. They won't be appropriate for everyone (not least because they cost money to do and they reduce planning fee income) but check it out and see what they can do. 

PAS Local Plan Route Mapper and Toolkit: we’d like your views

Have you tried out the PAS Local Plan Route Mapper and Toolkit? If so, would you help us review its effectiveness by taking our short survey? It takes 10 minutes. Thanks for your help, we would be grateful if you could complete our survey by 24 July 2020. 

New procurement of delivery

PAS is a small team, so we deliver lots of our work through a network of lovely peers and commercial suppliers. We are going to issue our next set of tenders for delivery services in the next few weeks, so if you want to see what we want to buy in case you might be able to sell it to us you will need to be registered with Delta

Delta lets you listen out for tenders using specific codes (called CPV codes). There isn't a great match for the work we usually buy, but we use 73220000. Our contracts are pretty tiddly in the main, but the work is interesting and tends to be in the vanguard of planning reform.

Latest KHub posts

There are some really interesting discussions going on in the KHub discussion forum:

Please have a look and share your thoughts. Stay safe and well.