Shepley on ... delivery grant bemusement

People in Plymouth are a bit fed up at the moment.

This is not usual. It is a nice place where it is hard to get really disgruntled. I know - I used to work there. The view from the Hoe is splendid, majestic frigates nose out of the naval base, seagulls gather around the sewer outfall and Argyle is now settled in the Championship.

That is not all. It is the first and so far only major city with an adopted core strategy. It has more adopted area action plans than any other authority. It also won the RTPI Silver Jubilee Cup for the way it handled its local development framework (LDF).

So why the long faces? In the recent breakdown of planning delivery grant linked to planning policy, which covers the LDF process, Plymouth City Council came 78th. The authority that came top does not have a single development plan document even at the preferred options stage. Some authorities that have had core strategies rejected came higher than Plymouth. Others with adopted core strategies came lower.

In fact, I am told that no councils with adopted core strategies featured in the top 30, although one with a withdrawn core strategy did. This raises some pretty serious questions about the fairness and the point of using the grant to incentivise authorities. The new housing-related grant seems to offer more opportunities for perverse outcomes.

Questions must be asked about the idea of league tables, the government's use of cash to get its own way and the emphasis on process instead of constructive planning. If the outcome does not even look fair, it cannot be taken seriously. Plymouth is not the only place that is demoralised rather than encouraged. Still, the view from the Hoe is superb.


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