Housing Delivery Test; working with Defra and the Environment Bill; the Create Streets Foundation; and more...

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January 2021

PAS Bulletin

January 2021

Despite all of the obvious disruptions to everyday life, January has been a real highlight for PAS. We are fortunate to be able to recruit to expand our team but we never know what sort of response we are going to get. After all, we cannot offer the security of other organisations and our work is so varied that pinning down what work we will be able to offer can be tricky!

This time, however, we received applications from a range of locations and all offering very different experiences and skills. I had the pleasure of reading some outstanding applications, filled with a passion for planning and local government. Those invited to interview were united in their drive to help their colleagues in local government.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every applicant. We really do appreciate your efforts. We have appointed to the roles  and we will make those announcements in our next newsletter. For now I take comfort in knowing that PAS is ready for the coming year and that local government is well served by dedicated officers. #reasonstobecheerful

Anna Rose
Head of PAS

The Housing Delivery Test

With little fanfare, the 2020 Housing Delivery Test measurement was released on 19 January 2021. The results show a number of councils will need to produce an Action Plan, either for the first time or a as a refresh. Don't forget we have a recently updated guide and resources to help with action plans and their contents. We will also be scheduling some events, including some help and advice for those councils who find themselves dealing with 'presumption'.

Working with Defra and the Environment Bill

As most of you will know almost everything we do is funded by the Ministry of Homes Communities and Local Government. (MHCLG). We have been in discussions for a while with a different bit of Government (Defra) about what some of the provisions in the Environment Bill will mean for Local Planning Authorities. Earlier in the week, the Bill was carried over into the next Parliamentary Session which will commence after a Queen's speech. This delay will prevent the Bill falling if it had not completed passage through Parliament when this Session ends, and moves our estimate of Royal Assent from spring to autumn.

The Bill will require significant (and interesting!) changes from the world of planning. Most obviously in the way we are required to use development to increase biodiversity but also strategically in the way we manage natural assets. In subsequent bulletins we will explain more about what we are up to, but you can expect us to help with pilots, case studies and good practice notes to reduce the burden on you.

We are truly looking forward to strengthening our offer on the environment. For the last few years it feels like we have focused on housing (and spreadsheets!) and this is a welcome bit of rebalancing. Colleagues from ALGE are organising a survey next week to understand the current position. We encourage your council to participate so we know what you need from us to make BNG a success.

The Create Streets Foundation

"How do we create strong, healthy and popular places for the long term?" The Create Streets Foundation has created a new programme of training packages and resources designed to help local authorities and neighbourhood groups do just this. The Creating Places Academy can provide anything from free short videos on how better to use design codes or create happy places to in-person and online training packages on how to use research, design codes or co-design. 

Yet more change on the horizon

There's plenty going on at the moment and MHCLG has a number of announcements and consultations open for comment. 

  • The Right to Regenerate consultation around converting vacant plots of land and derelict buildings into new homes or community spaces closes on 13 March 2021. 

  • The Supporting housing delivery and infrastructure consultation on proposed new permitted development rights and use classes closes on 28 January 2021 so be quick!

  • In heritage news, this month saw the introduction of new legal safeguards and regulations requiring, amongst other things, listed building consent for the removal of statues.

  • Our launch of the Gateway Reviewssupport for councils appears very timely with a Written Ministerial Statement urging everyone to ‘carry on planning’ to meet the December 2023 deadline for all councils to have up-to-date Local Plans in place. Check out our webpage if you are interested in a Gateway Review.

Gypsy and Traveller specialist

We are commissioning a piece of work on planning for the needs of the Gypsy and Traveller community. It’s a small market so if you know anyone we should invite to tender please let us know at pas@local.gov.uk.

Infrastructure funding statements

Last December was the first time that some councils published details of their developer contributions data. We held a series of events and published a handbook and sample statement afterwards. Most councils complied with the deadline, but we are aware that some needed to delay to take their statement to formal sign-off at a council meeting. Even if it is not quite ready to publish yet, please let our colleagues at MHCLG know by emailing them at DigitalLand@communities.gov.uk. They are keen that all councils successfully publish, and before you know it we will have to do the whole thing again. Separately, we are already working on fleshing out some governance models around spending infrastructure contributions. More on this shortly. 

Return to Work – Planning: PAS is supporting professionals in returning to work

We are very excited to have started the training with the participants of the Return to Work Planning programme. We have a great group of individuals who have a diverse background in planning and related disciplines. We also have a great team of professionals who are working with us to deliver the training, including the RTPI. If you are interested in being connected with the participants of the programme when the training is complete in March, and you haven’t already registered with us, let us know today.

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