Industrial strategy should require sub-regional spatial planning, says government-backed report

The government's industrial strategy should require all parts of the country to prepare sub-regional spatial plans and allow constrained urban areas to expand their boundaries, according to a new report endorsed by business secretary Greg Clark.

Greater Manchester: report says area should have a statutory spatial framework
Greater Manchester: report says area should have a statutory spatial framework

A study by local government think tank Localis in response to the government’s draft industrial strategy calls for different parts of the country to develop their own "local industrial strategies".

Such strategies would be led by "strategic authorities", which would be "a formal collaboration of local authorities across a geographic area", similar to combined authorities, it says.

The report suggests that the whole of England should be covered by strategic authorities on a county and city region scale.

A key recommendation in the report is for the government, instead of concluding devolution deals with each area, to establish an "industrial compact" with all of them.

Once a strategic authority has been set up, the report says, new powers "should automatically be transferred to them" from central government.

These include a requirement for strategic authorities "to establish statutory spatial frameworks across their area", such as that which exists in Greater London and is being brought forward in Greater Manchester.

Strategic authorities should also be able to "grant planning permission on sites of strategic industrial importance" and create development corporations" to coordinate regeneration across local government boundaries", the report says.

Meanwhile, compulsory purchase order (CPO) powers "should be pooled at the strategic authority level" with such powers "used more proactively" in capturing the increase in land value when planning permission is granted, the report adds.

The study also suggests allowing such authorities to introduce a Community Infrastructure Levy.

The report states: "The industrial compact should provide strategic authorities and their leaders a more muscular role in the planning system. This should include a coordinating spatial planning role and a specific suite of powers to intervene in the local planning system when it is not delivering the development a place needs."

Elsewhere in the report, a further recommendation concerns "stifled" places, such as Swindon and Norwich, that are "constrained by a lack of available land, with high demand for housing and growing populations".

Where "joint local plan making is ineffective or where partners simply refuse to collaborate", such places should "have the right to petition government for a boundary expansion", the report says. 

The government should "then consider whether a boundary should be redrawn to allow the stifled places additional land drawn from a neighbouring authority in order to meet demand for housing and economic development".

Writing in the forward to the report, secretary of state for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Greg Clark said: "Place will be an important feature of the industrial strategy, it will be a lens through which to make decisions and judge success.

"Government won’t have all the answers and this means we need partners to help us build a strong industrial strategy. This Localis report is an important contribution to that effort."

The Localis report, The Making of an Industrial Strategy, can be found here.

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