‘Aim High, Plan Low’

Group News

Aspirational economic targets vs Local Planning Policies

In 2010, the Government created Local Economic Partnerships (LEPs) and Strategic Economic Partnerships (SEPs). The purpose of this was to devolve power to local communities to drive their local economies. Since then, up and down the country, Local and Strategic Economic Strategies have been prepared setting out ambitious job growth targets in the hope of growing their local economy in a way in which responds to the bespoke nature of their area.

All too often, however, local planning authorities fail to translate the implications of the job growth targets into their land use Development Plans. A relevant example is the Greater Birmingham & Solihull LEP Strategic Economic Plan, which targets 250,000 new jobs to be created by 2030. Solihull accounts for around 12.5% of the 900,000 jobs in the Greater Birmingham &Solihull LEP area. If it is to account for similar proportion of the 250,000 target, this would represent more than 30,000 new jobs in the Borough by 2030. The evidence base that the Draft Solihull Local Plan is predicated upon uses annual job growth forecasts of 0.7%, which equates to 15,200 jobs between 2014 and 2033. When comparing the two figures, there is a clear mismatch between economic aspirations and what is being planned for on the ground.

Pegasus Group has found that in most cases local authorities ‘aim high, plan low’ and have made strong representations lobbying local planning authorities to take economic growth aspirations into account or risk stifling the economy.

The Standard Methodology for housing (consulted upon by the Government in their ‘Planning for the Right Homes in the Right Places’ publication and now presented in Draft Planning Practice Guidance which is anticipated to be introduced by the Government in the Summer) as currently proposed does not take into consideration economic growth implications. Consequently, it will be important that the
needs and ambitions of the economy are taken into account in development plans and, if necessary, appropriate uplifts are applied to ensure both economic and planning strategies are aligned and growth is achieved.

Pegasus Group is reviewing the implications of the new approach and how our planning services can assist to ensure the process takes into consideration the relevant factors, in particular economic aspirations.

For more information about Pegasus Group and its services please contact us.