Planning Circular 2/2008: statutory guidance on strategic development planning authorities

Guidance setting out how planning authorities should work together to prepare strategic development plans.


19. On commencement of the designation orders, the first role of the newly-designated SDPAs will be to agree boundaries for the strategic development plan areas. The Act requires each SDPA to submit a proposed boundary to Ministers within 3 months of designation as an SDPA.

20. Authorities should adopt a transparent approach to determining the most appropriate boundary, involving engagement with relevant interests. We expect agreement to be reached between the authorities on the proposed boundary but, where there are concerns, any of the constituent authorities may submit an alternative proposal to Ministers. Ministers will then confirm the final boundary. Powers to amend the submitted boundary or propose a different boundary should only be necessary in exceptional circumstances, particularly where there is no consensus amongst the authorities, and we will engage with authorities before designation to work towards an agreed position. Where Ministers determine that the proposed boundary should be amended or different, Ministers are required to give their reasons for their decision on the final boundary.

21. Given that the SDPs form part of the statutory development plan under Section 25 of the Act, it is important for the purposes of development management that it is clear where the SDP does and does not apply. Therefore, a clear and precise boundary is essential.

22. As discussed above, SDPs will deal with genuinely strategic cross-boundary issues and the proposed boundary should be drawn to allow the SDPA to effectively address such issues. This suggests that boundaries that are widely drawn will be more practical than those that are tightly set around the city. In addition, the perceived absence of cross-boundary issues in one part of the area does not necessarily mean that the boundary should be drawn to exclude that part - the content of the plan relating to each part of the plan area will be proportionate to the issues being addressed. A SDP boundary that matches up with local authority boundaries is likely to be the simplest solution, still allowing for the focus of the plan content to be on the issues and areas with the greatest cross-boundary implications. The exception will be national parks, which we expect to be excluded from SDP areas. Wherever the boundary is drawn, SDPAs and planning authorities adjacent to SDP areas will continue to work together on common issues of concern, taking particular care to address the needs of areas just outside the agreed plan boundary.

23. Section 4(6) of the Planning Act prevents more than one SDP being prepared for the same SDP area. Therefore, in areas where an authority forms part of more than one strategic development planning authority, neighbouring strategic development plans should not overlap. This avoids potential conflicts between two plans for the same area, prepared by different SDPAs.


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