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Eric Pickles revokes Regional Spatial Strategies

Communities secretary Eric Pickles has fulfilled the Government’s plans to revoke Regional Spatial Strategies (RSSs). 

The revocation of the planning strategies, which decided a local area’s sustainable growth and economic development, was announced in a letter from Eric Pickles to local authority chief planning officers.

Pickles wrote: “Regional strategies added unnecessary bureaucracy to the planning system. They were a failure. They were expensive and time-consuming. They alienated people, pitting them against development, instead of encouraging people to build in their local area.

“The revocation of regional strategies will make local spatial plans, drawn up in conformity with national policy, the basis for local planning decisions. The new planning system will be clear, efficient and will put greater power in the hands of local people rather than regional bodies.”

In the place of central targets, Pickles’ letter announced a provision for “powerful incentives so that people see the benefits of building” through the introduction of the Localism and Devolution Bill to Parliament.

Cory Environmental planning and estates director John Boldon welcomed the announcement, but criticised the lack of clarity over the newly announced building incentive schemes.

“We welcome the further clarification this announcement gives to the current planning process, although it is still not entirely evident how it will work in practice,” he said.

“We therefore hope the Government will publish the Localism Bill and its plans for providing incentives for local authorities and communities at the earliest opportunity, so that we can understand how this will influence our future proposals.”

The announcement was also welcomed by AEA practice manager Dr Adam Read, who explained that RSSs had helped to inform authorities when considering scale and geographical distribution of waste, but added that their abolition would not pose a problem for waste infrastructure.

Read told MRW: “I just think the RSS becomes less of a critical flavour when you’ve got to design and deliver facilities that are locally suitable. So I don’t see it being a major problem for the waste industry.”

The abolition of RSSs was first outlined in the coalition programme for government as part of a bid to return planning decisions to local authorities.

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