Following the abolition of RSS, the responses have been wide and varied. Here is a selection of some of the voices in the debate

Responses to the abolition of regional spatial strategies

The LI have released a memorandum that outlines the possible problems resulting from the abolition of RSS including proposed solutions.

One of the key areas covered is a call for green infrastructure (GI) to be considered and planned for, as part of a wider synthesis between economic policy and GI policy. While the concept of GI is well understood by Defra, with the recent White paper on natural environement acknowledging the links between natural value and economic value, two recent papers – the National Infratsructure Plan and the Sub-national Economic Growth White paper – fail to attribute equal importance to GI and, indeed, appropriate definitions of GI that are inconsistent with Defra. The LI is continuing to work to ensure that the benefits of a GI approach to land use is recognised across government departments.

Other areas covered in the LI memorandum on RSS include: ways to maintain new housing development through government incentives, proper cooperation for local planning on RSS matters, and analysis of the proposals already put forward by the government. The memorandum can be read in full here.

As a response to the revocation of RSS, Cala Homes is now seeking a judicial review to reinstate the South East Plan. The developer argues that the Minister acted outside his powers by removing a fundamental part of the plan-led system and breached European law by failing to assess the environmental effects of revoking regional strategies.

Cllr Graham Facks-Martin, North Cornwall District Council, has commented: “I believe Regional Spatial Strategies were very good pieces of work and the demise of Regional Planning is to be greatly deplored; in one form or another it will return. The 2 reasons why top down figures did not work were: 1. The Secretary of State did not approve the RSS’s that had been completed, and 2. That many Local Authorities did not complete their Local Plans or Core Strategies as they should have done.The choice seems to be between planning growth or allowing those settlements that want to grow to do so.”

Cllr Roger Gambba-Jones, South Holland District, responded: “I’m afraid I cannot agree with Cllr Graham Facks-Martin’s view. His endorsement of the top down approach ignores the shortcomings of the totally inflexible, one size fits all policies that imposed often inappropriate requirements, on the rural areas of England. Two examples are, minimum housing densities, that generally rode roughshod over the existing character of the location, and maximum parking standards that completely ignored the dependence on the private car forced on most of our rural communities by an inadequate and expensive public transport system.”

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Background
Regional Spacial Strategies were abolished with immediate effect following an announcement made by Eric Pickles MP, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, on 6 July 2010. Alongside the statement, Steve Quartermain, CLG Chief Planner, wrote to Local Authority Chief Planning Officers alerting them to the statement and providing some guidance in the form of ‘questions and answers’ advice on immediate issues that may arise. This is all available here.

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