The first comprehensive guide to growth and localism is launched today (22nd September 2011) by leading voices from the private, voluntary and public sectors, including the Planning Officers Society.
Entitled 'Working together. Delivering growth through localism', it brings together in one place the full range of initiatives and ideas created by Localism and the Government's Plan for Growth with other wide-ranging reforms, and gives practitioners a way to understand and deliver these agendas. The guide can be viewed at: www.growthandlocalism.net
'Working together' also offers ten recommendations to Government. These include:
- An extension to the scale of prudential borrowing by local authorities for investment in new housing. If councils were allowed to borrow against their assets and freed of historic debt in the system, up to 300,000 additional homes could be built in the next 10 years.
- Local Plans to be updated and completed by every local authority as an absolute priority. This is seen as critical to the delivery of Localism.
- A stream-lined, low-cost procurement and disposal process for surplus public land, to maximise delivery of affordable housing.
- Fresh investment to revitalise town centres, not least in response to the recent riots, applying a Town Centre first approach in planning policy and extending the model of an 'Outer London Fund' to other cities.
- An urgent review of the potential to reintroduce technical colleges with day release courses, as a way to reconnect less academic young people with employment and training.
The report suggests that the new policy framework sets a revolutionary agenda for councils, business and communities. It recognises the challenges and concerns, while offering a way for practitioners to navigate this new environment and practical examples of success from around the UK. It comprehensively covers:
- The new policy framework, summarising all the key strands of the Government's Localism agenda and the Plan for Growth.
- How to create successful places, including a short history of place-making in Britain and case studies of Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth and Marylebone High Street, to show what can be achieved.
- A review of government initiatives to increase housing supply, including the conversion of offices into homes.
- How to maximise affordable housing while delivering 150,000 new Affordable Homes in a context in which capital funding has almost halved and there are nearly 4.5 million people on waiting lists.
- The use of new models of financing development, using examples from Hull, Croydon and Manchester to reveal the potential of radical innovation.
- How councils and developers can engage with communities using techniques such as social networking and Barefoot consultation, and what effective collaboration can achieve.
- The Government's new Universal Credit and the Work Programme designed to get 2.4 million people into employment. Case studies from the volunteer-run TARA initiative as well as the ODA's Women into Construction project suggest how to tackle a situation in which 1.4 million people have been out of work and receiving benefits for nine of the last ten years.
- How Neighbourhood Plans fit within the National Planning Policy Framework, the criteria for a Neighbourhood Forum and the steps required to adopt a Neighbourhood Plan.
Commenting on the report, Sir Bob Kerslake, Permanent Secretary at the Department for Communities and Local Government, said: "This book is a welcome contribution to the work that is now going on to achieve the effective implementation of localism. The Department will look very closely at the conclusions and recommendations."
The Planning Officers Society was represented on the study working group by Vincent Haines, Convenor of the Society's Urban Design Topic Forum.