Ports call on Government: Jobs and prosperity must be more central to planning reform

Ports call on Government: Jobs and prosperity must be more central to planning reform The UK Major Ports Group (“UKMPG”), the voice for the UK’s largest port operators, has today launched a Briefing paper on the Government’s proposed sweeping changes to the planning system in England (see https://tinyurl.com/y2mzqcqu).Produced with planning specialists Adams Hendry the Briefing sets out key areas of concernforthe ports sector, most notably the overwhelmingly focus on housingand the lack of consideration of economic activity.

The Government has recently published for consultation the White Paper “Planning for the Future” The White Paper is a wide ranging and extensive document which sets out major potential reforms and changes to the planning system in England. For example, taken at its most literal the whole of England would be split into just three categories with some fairly sweeping ‘in principle’ approval stances in the ‘Growth’ category.

Although the consultation document presents a ‘direction of travel’ rather than the detail of what any new planning system will be some of the key aspects are troubling.

Commenting on the launch of the BriefingTim Morris, CEO of UKMPG, said “We all need somewhere to live. But a lot of people also need to earn a living –or rely on someone who does. You’d be forgiven for not realising that from reading the ‘Planning for Future’ consultation document. The focus is overwhelmingly on housing and taking a local perspective.

This has to be a major cause for concern. The risk is that economic activity, particularly that such as ports with a national or regional role greater, willnot have sufficient recognition within a new streamlined, housing focused approach.

”Looking to the positives, the Briefing notes that greater application of the principle of front loading information gathering and consideration to enable a more streamlined approvals process for developments could be a useful step forward. It is one which has proved productive to port operators through stimulating investment and faster job creation through DCO and Local Development Ordermechanisms, for example.

UKMPG will be pressing Government for be more recognition of economic activity and considerations above the purely local level. It isessential that core strategic objectives have the appropriate weighting in local decision making.Just as one example, the inter-relationship between Local Plans and National Policy Statements must be much clearer.

At a port level, to capture the opportunities and get the appropriate recognition of port and related activities contained within increasingly important Local Plans, port operators will need to meaningfully engage from the earliest stages of Local Plan formation and redouble their efforts on ongoing stakeholder engagement to ensure their strong story is clearly and widely understood.

For more information please contact:Tim Morris, Chief Executive, UK Major Ports GroupTel: 07387 091 407Email: Tim.Morris@ukmajorports.org.uk