Greater Manchester, West of England and Liverpool are the three combined authorities with new powers to do an SDS (note not West Midlands). Greater Manchester is now doing an SDS rather than a new style JSP, as the regs require approval by the council leaders not each authority and two are hung so it would never otherwise get passed. Thing are messy in West of England as North Somerset is part of the JSP but declined to form part of the combined authority.
Some key differences.
- Done under complicated amendments using Henry VIII to the 1999 GLA Act enabling it to cover more than London. This means it operates in a pre 2004 system i.e. no test of soundness, no binding panel report;
- They are not development plans, they cannot allocate land directly or directly change Green belt Boundaries.
- They cannot be on a map base.
- They still retain the wider ‘spatial’ brief of planning and are not narrowly confined to land use, so they also cover transport and economic development directly
- The General Conformity rule applies- like old style structure plans. So if an SDS wants an area to be strategic growth or to change GB boundaries a compliant local plan has to.
In some ways the extra flexibility and scope is helpful to authorities. It is difficult to see why any area would rationally chose a JSP over an SDS, as South Essex has.
In other ways it is anacronistic, i.e. the lack of the soundness discipline, abused many times in London to ignore panel reports as the London Plan has grown ever less strategic with each review. Also the inability to directly allocate or designate/designate leads to needless delay. They should have this power (at the very least in strategic growth areas) , its a hangover from the 1960s PAG days when planning in England grew paranoid about applying the planning 101 skill of drawing lines on maps (it has never recovered). Lets print some T Shirts – ‘Real Planners draw Lines on Maps.’