How the #VALP Inspectors Report Shows @PINS and @MHCLG Deal to Tackle Uncertainty over New Settlements and Infrastructure in Growth Arcs and Corridors

Here

‘Firstly, I am severely troubled by an approach which envisages that the plan will need to be reviewed soon after adoption. Whilst Inspectors are generally willing to find a plan sound where one or two finite issues remain unresolved and are relatively peripheral to the main thrust of the plan, it appears that the consequences of an impending government decision on the route of the Oxford- Cambridge expressway are expected to lead to a fundamental review of the plan’s development strategy.

To be sound a plan must be positively prepared. A particularly encouraging element of the plan is the way it proposes to deal with the impending closure of RAF Halton. During the examination, the Council defended its approach by writing; “While there may be some uncertainty over the exact process for closure and all parties still await further detail, we cannot afford to ignore Government announcements and any development potential that results from them. It is after all better to plan positively for change rather than suffering the effects of an ad-hoc approach to the probable redevelopment of the camp.” The same sentiments apply with equal force to the announcements about the Cam-MK-Ox growth arc.

Predictable events should be planned for. Both Heathrow expansion and the Oxford-Cambridge expressway are predictable, known, events. Only the route of the latter is not yet fixed. To be sound, VALP should make contingency plans to accommodate them, not simply abandon its function to a future review of uncertain timescale.

About half of the growth expected to result from the implementation of the Cam-MK-Ox growth arc is expected to take place in existing settlements. Their location is, by definition, existing, and therefore, known. In my consideration of housing numbers I make recommendations for the plan to take account of that now, as it does already in respect of employment land.

For the known unknown of the route of the Oxford-Cambridge expressway, it would be surprising if the Council did not already have contingency plans for whichever route is chosen. Those contingency plans should be included in VALP as contingencies. If a decision is announced on the route while the Council is preparing its Modifications to the plan then a firmer view can be taken. That should make the plan more robust, less dependent on an early review, and hence sound.’

See what the pdf file was saved as – Another plan.  Lets hope Telford didnt get a shock thinking they were getting an expressway and new railway. 

Now what does this mean?  its clearly a make peace operation with the Ministry after their disappointment on the NEGC examination, as the inspectors views here are opposite, pragmatic and sensible in terms of management of uncertainty in strategic growth corridors.

Messages – know you risk uncertainty distinction and you Donald Rumsfeld Matrix.  For known unknown do contingency plans, a plan a and a plan b.  This is particularly important where infrastructure in a JSP could be transformational but where the preferred option is essentially a pitch.  You say to government we might be able to cope with double or triple OAN but we need the South Anywhere link Road and the East of Anywhere Rail Chord and Parkway station next to Anywhere Garden City – etc. etc. If we don’t get it in the stepped trajectory by year x then its dispersed growth everywhere to big and medium sized villages, sprawl around all towns, designed to reduce  distribute traffic even though it is harder to service by transit, plan B option B.  This has to be in the plan – not ‘ear;y review’ or otherwise your not testing a reasonable alternative and you might be putting forward an undeliverable option. 

Of course this is designed as well to cope with uncertainty over the Oxford Cambridge Expressway – which is big deal, either it takes a route from the North Western Arterial away from Watkin Calvert New Town or the South Western Arterial to go South of South of Grenoble Road.  Physical and habitat constraints, and constraints of road geometry mean that the only reasonable route can only be within a few hundred metres tolerence (no trashing of priority habitat and historic villages going on) , not affecting any Garden City strategic pre-concept masterplanning (if you plan them for both options and test them in traffic model used by HA in planning The OX _CAM expressway) 

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