National property consultancy, Carter Jonas, has launched a Live Local Plan Monitor: an interactive online platform that analyses adopted local plans, emerging plans, consultations and housing land supply.
The web-based resource is unique in providing an up-to-date snapshot of local planning which will create a level of insight not previously available. It does this through a series of interactive web pages displaying local authority boundaries, key towns and cities and road networks in the context of information on the adopted local plan, emerging local plans (and the regulation stage reached), stated housing land supply and opportunities for submitting sites for development suitability assessment. The tool is intended for use by developers, landowners, Central Government, those responsible for major infrastructure projects, Government bodies (eg, Environment Agency, Natural England), local authorities and members of the public.
James Cordery, Associate Partner, Planning & Development, Carter Jonas commented: “We will use the information collated to identify opportunities for housing and commercial development and to assist our landowning and developer clients in their decision making. This is particularly important at present, when clients are reading about Government proposals for significant and wide-reaching reform of our planning system.
“Furthermore, the need for a clear understanding of land’s development potential at the early stages of the plan-making process is increasing in importance. If enacted, the proposals within the Government’s recent White Paper, Planning for the Future will see most of the consultation on emerging development opportunities ‘front-loaded’ through the local plan making stage. This will mean that early engagement becomes even more critical and knowing when to ‘strike’ will provide our clients with an advantage. In the near-term, Government is also proposing changes to the Standard Methodology. If introduced, these changes will increase the new housing requirement for several local planning authorities, providing further opportunities for development proposals to be brought forward, whilst councils work to update their local development plans.”
Peter Canavan, Associate Partner, Planning & Development at Carter Jonas, who co-created the tool with James Cordery, added: “Having worked in the strategic planning teams of local authorities previously, I am all too aware of the difficulty in accessing information about the status of local plans throughout the country. I have always felt that a nation-wide resource would have infinite benefits to local authorities – enabling them to gain an immediate overview of local plans in their region, to draw comparisons nationwide, and to better understand the local plan progress of local authorities with similar challenges and demographics.”
Creating this functionality when the planning system potentially faces significant change makes it particularly pertinent. It is proposed that most consultation in planning will take place at the Local Plan stage, rather than at the application stage, with interested parties opting to ‘zone’ areas for ‘growth’, ‘renewal’ or ‘protection’. To avoid losing the benefits of public input into planning, there is a greater need for accessibility, which this tool delivers. Furthermore, the microsite has been designed in such a way that its structure and functionality will not alter as changes to strategic planning are introduced. As the old and new systems coexist, it can present data on both. It is also designed to accommodate possible administrative changes: the increase in regional plans, of shared planning teams, and of moves towards unitary status.
The microsite for the South and South West was launched this week, and drawing on Carter Jonas’s presence through England, the national picture will be complete shortly.