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LAST CHANCE TO COMMENT ON BLUEPRINT FOR NORTH WEST

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A strategy to improve poor neighbourhoods and to tackle pockets of ...
A strategy to improve poor neighbourhoods and to tackle pockets of

low demand for housing and property abandonment in the North West was

announced today by Sally Keeble, planning and regeneration minister.

The proposed changes to Draft Regional Planning Guidance (NWRPG), the

blueprint for the renaissance of the North West, is published today

for a major round of consultation.

In answer to a Parliamentary Question from Louise Ellman MP

(Liverpool, Riverside), Sally Keeble said:

'A key issue for the region is to bring about the renaissance of the

urban areas by encouraging economic growth and regeneration in a

sustainable way.

'To achieve this we are promoting the renewal of the region's urban

areas by concentrating resources upon the selective refurbishment,

conversion and redevelopment of outworn building stock, and the

comprehensive improvement of older and unpopular neighbourhoods.

'We would welcome views on whether the proposed changes provide an

adequate planning framework for tackling low demand and on the

sub-regional approach to housing renewal set out by Policy UR6. In

particular, we welcome views on whether the proposed changes are

sufficient to prevent the unnecessary release of greenfield land for

housing. Alternatively, we need to consider whether there should be

further changes to reflect the recommendation made by the transport,

local government and the regions committee that no new planning

permissions should be granted for greenfield sites.'

The document sets out new, clear guidance consistent with government

commitment to protect the environment by building on brownfield land

first. There is a 15 per cent reduction in new homes built each year

- down from 15,045 to 12,790 a year and for a five per cent increase

in homes built on brownfield land.

Last week the government announced£25m funding for nine Pathfinders

to reverse economic and social decline in Northern England, where

derelict housing had blighted the area. The money will speed up the

process of researching and developing projects to tackle low demand

and abandonment.

The proposed changes to the draft guidance call for an integrated

approach to housing renewal and encourage organisations like local

authorities to take into consideration social, environmental and

economic issues. Consideration will also need to be given in the next

RPG review to whether changes need to be made in the light of the

Pathfinders research.

Notes

1. A full copy of the parliamentary question is attached.

2. Regional planning guidance gives key public, private and voluntary

organisations a framework for their development plans and strategic

decision making over a 15 to 20-year period. It sets out a broad

range of priorities for a region, including for the economy, housing,

transport, communications, the environment, tourism and leisure.

3. The Draft Regional Planning Guidance for the North West was

prepared by the North West Regional Assembly (NWRA) and published in

July 2000 for public consultation. It has since been through a public

examination, held by an independent panel in Manchester in February

and March 2001, which led to some changes being recommended to the

secretary of state for transport, local government and the regions.

The secretary of state has considered those recommendations and

published a final draft for consultation. Interested parties have 13

weeks to respond with comments to Government Office North West. The

deadline for responses to the draft is Friday 16 August 2002.

4. The final version of NWRPG is planned for Autumn 2002.

5. RPG deals with more issues than just housing. Among its broader

aims are to:

- achieve greater economic competitiveness and growth, with

associated social progress

- secure an urban renaissance in the cities and towns of the north

west

- ensure the sensitive and integrated development and management of

the coastal zone and secure the revival of coastal resort towns

- sustain and revive the region's rural communities and the rural

economy

- ensure active management of the region's environmental and cultural

assets

- secure a better image for the region and high environmental quality

and design quality

- create an accessible region, with an efficient and fully integrated

transport system

7. Copies of the draft regional planning guidance are available from

Government Office North West on 0161 952 4203, or from the internet

at www.go-nw.gov.uk

Question

To ask the secretary of state for transport, local government & the

regions when he intends to publish his response to the

recommendations of the Panel that conducted the Public Examination of

Draft Regional Planning Guidance for the North West, and whether he

will make a statement?

Answer

'My right honourable friend the secretary of state for transport,

local government and the regions is today publishing for public

consultation proposed changes to the Draft Regional Planning Guidance

for the North West (RPG13). They are based on the recommendations of

the independent Panel that held a Public Examination into Draft RPG13

in February and March 2001.

Draft RPG was prepared and published by the North West Regional

Assembly (NWRA). Its overall strategy is to establish a broad

framework for the preparation of Development Plans by the North

West's Local Planning Authorities up to 2016. It aims to achieve

greater economic competitiveness and growth with associated regional

progress; to secure an urban renaissance in the cities and towns of

the North West; to sustain the Region's smaller rural and coastal

communities; to create an accessible region; to assure the prudent

management of the region's environmental and cultural assets; and to

secure environmental quality. We support this and, as recommended by

the Panel, we are proposing changes to ensure that the strategy is

more clearly expressed and relates clearly to the policy chapters. It

is important that the implications for development plans and other

strategies are clear and unambiguous in order to make a real

difference on the ground.

A key issue for the Region is to bring about the renaissance of the

urban areas by encouraging economic growth and regeneration in a

sustainable way. To achieve this we are promoting the renewal of the

Region's urban areas by concentrating resources upon the selective

refurbishment, conversion and redevelopment of outworn building

stock, and the comprehensive improvement of older and unpopular

neighbourhoods. At the same time, we are proposing to include a

reduction in the annual rate of provision of totally new housing

(unrelated to clearance) by 15%, and increase the proportion of

housing provided on previously used (brownfield) land from 65% to

70%. The proposed changes give added weight to avoiding any premature

release of greenfield land which would undermine attempts to promote

the use of recycled land and the redevelopment of existing housing

areas.

The proposed changes set out projected annual housing provision rates

in Table 5.1 and policy on housing provision in Policy UR7. We expect

RPG to bring forward an integrated approach to housing renewal at

regional and sub-regional level, recognising that the development of

sub-regional strategies should look beyond purely housing

considerations, and allow for holistic approaches, which include

economic, environmental and social elements and mechanisms. We also

expect that in developing and implementing sub-regional strategies

there will also be a need to have respect for local

area/neighbourhood diversity.

Tackling low demand and abandonment lies at the heart of the revised

strategy. In underlining the importance of these proposed changes I

also wish to draw to attention to the pathfinder initiative 'Action

to Tackle Housing Abandonment' announced by the secretary of state on

6 April 2002. Pathfinders will be formed in Greater Manchester

(Manchester - Salford, Oldham - Rochdale), Merseyside Liverpool,

Sefton and Wirral), East Lancashire (Blackburn, Hyndburn, Burnley and

Pendle). The role of the Regional Assembly, the North West

Development Agency and local planning authorities working with

housing and other partners to pursue a fully integrated response, to

this issues of low demand, high vacancy rates, falling housing

numbers and abandonment, wherever they are to be found. We would

welcome views on whether the proposed changes provide an adequate

planning framework for tackling low demand and on the sub-regional

approach to housing renewal set out by Policy UR6. In particular, we

welcome views on whether the proposed changes are sufficient to

prevent the unnecessary release of greenfield land for housing.

Alternatively, we need to consider whether there should be further

changes to reflect the recommendation made by the transport, local

government and the regions committee that no new planning permissions

should be granted for greenfield sites.

The Panel recommended the merging of the original Core

Strategy/DevelopmentPrinciples and Spatial Development Framework

chapters. After careful study we have decided that it would be better

to keep the two chapters apart but re-draft them. In so doing I

believe that we have kept true to the spirit of what the original

Draft intended but added a Core Development Principle (on economic

competitiveness with social progress), and expressed the Spatial

Development Framework with greater clarity. I would particularly

welcome views on the proposed priority for urban renaissance

resources (set out in Policy SD1) as suggested in the Panel's Report

(R5.6a).

The Panel recommended the development of Table 11.1 in Chapter 11 on

Monitoring, Implementation and Review. Whilst attempting to set out

targets and indicators in the form suggested by the Panel there is a

need to develop these further and views on this would be particularly

welcome. To help progress this in line with the Panel's

recommendations, there will be a seminar for stakeholders during the

consultation period and assistance from the Assembly will be

invaluable in this matter. As part of that deliberation an Action

Plan will be considered in line with the Panel's recommendation

(R13.2).

During the Public Examination it was acknowledged that there is a

considerable amount of further work that needs to be done and a range

of issues that will require an early review of both RPG and the

Regional Transport Strategy by the NWRA. Specifically, guidance will

need to take into account the findings of a number of studies

including those on Air Service; Multi-Modal Transport Studies; Public

Transport Accessibility Profiling; Regional Freight; Regional Park &

Ride Sites; Renewable Energy Resources; Transport Demand Management;

Regional Park Resources; Regional Waste Facility Requirements;

Regional Derelict Land Survey; Assessment of distribution and

effectiveness of a variety of Waste Minimisation Initiatives across

the Region; Review of Urban Potential Studies; and the implications

of reviews of PPG 25, MPG6 and the Proposed Policy Guidance on the

Extraction of Minerals from the Seabed.

In considering these proposed changes and carrying out future review

of RPG13 it is important that account is taken of the principles set

out in the Planning Green Paper, in particular the need to make RPG

shorter and more strategic; more regionally specific; and more

integrated and coordinated with other regional strategies; the

increasing importance of introducing sub-regional policies within

RPGs will also need to be addressed; and ensuring that the RPG

process does not avoid making difficult decisions. Such a review is

intended to help develop RPG13 and I am sure that the NWRA will

continue to embrace the challenge of helping to implement and develop

the Guidance. Consequently, whilst the proposed changes to the

policies in this Draft RPG should be the focus of attention, views

are also invited on the changes to the supporting text, including on

the extent to which there is any scope for itto be shorter, clearer,

and more regionally focussed. We intend to revisit this issue

following the period of consultation

There will now be a thirteen-week consultation period on the proposed

changes which will end on Friday 16 August. Copies of the relevant

documents have been placed in the house library and provided to all

of the Region's MPs.'

Planning: delivering a fundamental change. Published February 2002.

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