Setting standards in infrastructure delivery

Help is at hand on how to identify levels of service provision required for developments as part of preparing local plans, Janice Morphet explains.

When PPS12 was published in June, it reinforced the fundamental role of infrastructure planning in local development frameworks (LDF) and particularly core strategies.

Many planners are daunted by the scale of the task of preparing infrastructure delivery plans and there is confusion about whether this is really a plan, a process or a programme. It is probably all three and getting started is not as difficult as it sounds.

One of the key features of any plan-making process is to identify the baseline of existing facilities and land uses. Then, through the application of standards and service models, it is possible to identify any deficits that will need to be made good through the plan proposals for the period covered.

There are many examples to consider. Most plans identify an open space standard and apply this to existing or new development areas. Where there is a shortfall in provision, proposals are made to meet it through a range of measures including changing land uses, new development or better management of existing capacity.

Service providers have standards that can be applied - such as access to libraries or schools, recycling points or bus stops - and it is important to understand their origins. Are those for leisure centres or swimming pools derived from Sport England or local standards? Is the dual use of facilities taken into account when considering them?

These requirements are identified in policy, by locality and, where possible, through specific sites. Making good this shortfall can come from a variety of sources including public sector capital programmes as well as recycling assets and developer contributions. The role of the LDF is to include these mainstream funds as part of the delivery process.

One of the first tasks in preparing an infrastructure delivery plan is to identify the relevant standards, their provenance and then the deficits that are apparent when the standards are applied.

Collecting these standards and explaining to service and partner colleagues why they are needed can be a practical way for them to understand the role of the core strategy and should make them keener to engage with the process. For other public sector partners, such as health or emergency services, this engagement can be achieved through the local strategic partnership where they are members and where there is a duty of co-operation.

- Janice Morphet is a director of RMJM Consulting and visiting professor at the Bartlett School of Planning at University College London. Further stages in the infrastructure planning process will be discussed over the next two months at a series of Planning Advisory Service seminars launched in Cambridge this week. For more information, please visit This is the first of a series on the role of planning and LDFs in infrastructure provision.

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