Counties are great places to live and work, and where businesses thrive, but they are not without their challenges: house prices are higher than the national average and infrastructure investment has not kept pace with demand. Many county areas have large infrastructure gaps in comparison with their projected housing growth which, risks their ability to create sustainable development and communities.
As we emerge from the pandemic, we have a chance to press pause and consider how we build the best possible communities of the future for people to live in. If this is to happen we need to consider all the elements that equate to sustainable communities: not just housing, but infrastructure, health, economy, and the environment. These functions are often overseen by different local authorities, and differing public bodies or organisations, and we need to find a way to fuse them together.
The County Councils Network’s solution is the re-introduction of strategic planning: giving areas the opportunity to collaborate and take all of these considerations into account, zooming out and planning for growth and infrastructure over a wider canvas. The County Councils Network’s solution is CCN has proposed the introduction of Strategic Planning Advisory Bodies: which would bring together all councils, business, and health partners in an area to plan for housing and growth.
This collaborative approach moves away from considering planning in purely housing numbers and is proposed at a time when the government is proposing a number of reforms to the planning system. .
CCN’s unitary councils are housing authorities which also incorporates a responsibility for homeless individuals. The network will be working with partners to understand the lessons on homelessness during the pandemic and the ‘Everyone In’ scheme, and will work to ensure CCN members get a fair share of resources for this hugely important agenda.