A trend in some areas, notably Greater Birmingham, is for there strategic plans to be based on a pro-rata population based carve up of SHMA numbers rather than a planned one, least of all one subject to options appraisal and SEA, where areas with greatest opportunity having highest numbers. The basis for this is where unanimity is the rule the receivers will not be able to sell it.
Such a carve up, similar to old style structure plan county carve ups – need involve no planning at all.
Is this justifiable?
In terms of the soundness test of positively prepared the proposed change to make ‘an effective plan’ the test rather than ‘the most effective plan’ the change would go backwards in making it impossible to point to a better more sustainable location elsewhere as the lcoation for development. this change would be the antithesis of planning. it would be planning by spreadsheet rather than planning by analysis and geography. It would prevent objectors making democratic arguments about alternatives and hence probably contrary to the common law tests on public consultation.
In terms of the legal tests – well of course the DTC is not a duty to agree (my term) but mere cooperation is not enough. The test legal test as guidance makes clear is to ‘to maximise the effectiveness of Local and Marine Plan preparation’ and so (say) all authorities got together and agreed no housing that would not be an effective plan. Mere agreement does not comply with the duty – it must positively agree and maximise the effectiveness of that agreement. So a spreadhseet based carve up- without analysis of alternatives – would breach the duty in my opinion, before even considering whether common consultation law and EU SEA law would have been breached as well (which they would have been).