In an answer to a parliamentary question, Ms Keeble said:
'This proposal raised significant objections from the regional planning body, the local authorities, and the regional development agency (One NorthEast). In the light of all the comments received we are proposing to re-instate the proposal for a strategic employment site in the broad location of north Sunderland. There will be strict control of development to promote high quality proposals to assist in the creation of new business clusters, rather than as originally envisaged to provide a long term reserve solely for large single users. The re-instatement of this location is on the basis that ANEC will progress the proposed employment land review, and re-allocate or de-allocate unsustainable sites as part of the early review to be undertaken in 2002/2003.
'To ensure appropriate development it is proposed that after the precise location of the site has been defined a development brief be prepared. A joint brief may be needed given that the area of search straddles three local planning authorities: Sunderland City Council, Gateshead Council and South Tyneside MBC. This should safeguard the site for prestige development of national or regional significance, and ensure that public transport accessibility is maximised. The site boundaries will need to be defined in the relevant unitary development plans.
'Whilst the principle of the need for an additional strategic employment site in the Tees Valley is accepted, further work is required to identify more precisely where this should be in the broad area West of Stockton. This proposal should be carried forward as part of the early review of RPG1 in 2002/2003.
'Comments on the proposed further change are being invited over a twelve-week period. These will be considered, along with all the representations already received, before RPG1 is finalised later in the year.'
The draft RPG for the North East was prepared by the association of north east councils, which represents the local authorities in the region. It was published in December 1999 for public consultation and a public examination was held in North Shields in June/July 2000. The independent Panel was chaired by Alan F Richardson.
The panel report was published in October 2000 and provided the main basis for the secretary of state's proposed changes to draft RPG1 which were published for public consultation in April 2001.
The consultation period on the secretary of state's proposed changes ended on 19 July 2001. Approximately 1,000 comments were received. Many of the consultation responses welcome the proposed changes. There are also many suggestions of further changes to RPG. All of these will be carefully considered before RPG is finalised. However, before this is done, there is a further opportunity to comment on the proposal for a strategic employment site in the broad location of North Sunderland. This has been recognised as a sensitive issue, and the then minister for planning Nick Raynsford, in publishing the proposed changes specifically invited comments on this matter as part of the consultation process.
The public can see or obtain a copy of the RPG documents in the following ways:
By contacting Mr Pieter Vermaas, GONE, Wellbar House, The Gallowgate, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 4TD.
Tel: 0191 202 3773 Fax: 0191 202 3735 E-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org
By accessing the Regional Planning Guidance pages on the GONE website at http://www.go-ne.gov.uk/rpg
Copies may also be available for inspection in local authority planning departments.
PURPOSE OF THE RPG
Regional planning guidance provides the regional framework for the plans and strategic decisions of public, private and voluntary organisations, including the preparation of local authority development plans. It sets out:
A broad development framework for the region for a fifteen to twenty year period.
Spatial objectives - that is objectives that can be expressed and taken forward in a way which clearly influences the geographical location, distribution and scale of development activities and other strategies and programmes.
Priorities for the economy, housing, transport and communications; the environment, including water, minerals and waste treatment and disposal and energy generation and use; and tourism and leisure.
RPG also helps to inform other key regional strategies and programmes including One North East's (the regional development agency) regional economic strategy, and provides a regional context for the preparation of local transport plans.
CURRENT REGIONAL PLANNING GUIDANCE
Current regional planning guidance for the North East is provided by two documents: RPG1 Strategic Guidance for Tyne and Wear (1989) covering the period to 2001, and RPG7 Regional Planning Guidance for the Northern Region (1993) covering the period to 2006. This revision of RPG rolls the process forward to 2016 and takes account of the Government's new approach to regional planning as set out in Planning Policy Guidance Note 11 'Regional Planning' (October 2000).
13 December 1999 - 4 February 2000
Public consultation on ANEC's draft RPG
20 June - 7 July 2000
Public examination of selected draft RPG matters in North Shields held by an independent panel
6 October 2000
Independent panel report published for information
26 April 2001 - 19 July 2001
Secretary of state publishes proposed changes to the draft RPG for public consultation
February - May 2002
Further public consultation on proposed re-instatement of a strategic employment site in the broad location of North Sunderland.
Secretary of state, having considered all representations received during the consultation exercises issues revised Regional Planning Guidance for the North East (RPG1) to 2016.