Planning magazine reports that the government has lined up a series of devolution deals with city-regions across England, granting them a range of strategic planning powers, but queries whether these responsibilities will actually be exercised.
Under the devolution deals, seven of the ten combined authorities are committed to preparing spatial planning frameworks.
"The devolution process offers real opportunities for a return to effective strategic planning," says Planning Officers Society strategic planning specialist Catriona Riddell. "There will be some variations in terms of what they include, but I'm sure they will all have to set housing provision and distribution figures for local plans."
S147 of the Housing and Planning Act 2016 gives combined authorities powers to prepare or update development plans where the secretary of state rules that constituent councils are failing to deliver.
"If a constituent council decides it doesn't want to plan for its agreed contribution to housing provision, the combined authority could call the plan in," Riddell told Planning. "But combined authorities are partnerships and I'm not sure they would want to jeopardise relationships by going down this route. I suspect conformity issues between mayors and individual councils would be sorted out through negotiations before getting to this stage."