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Planning authorities 'missing an opportunity'
Many planning authorities are missing the opportunity to use developers' contributions to benefit the countryside and help people enjoy it, according to new research carried out for the Countryside Agency.
While some planning departments are already negotiating with developers to provide new cycleways, community woodlands, nature reserves and funding for better bus services as part of their planning agreements, many other planners are neglecting the opportunities to secure such community benefits.
The report, "Countryside benefits from developer contributions", produced by the Planning Policies Research Group of Oxford Brookes University, gives examples of more than 40 projects which have provided community or environmental benefits as part of new developments.
Jeremy Worth, head of planning at the Countryside Agency, launching the report at a seminar ("Seizing the opportunity") in Leeds on 28 October, said:
Whenever new development takes place in or near to the countryside, it is in the public interest for developers to provide benefits for local people to offset the impact on the environment and enjoyment of the countryside. Too often, most of the effort seems to go into negotiating new roads and other built facilities rather than 'greening' the development and its surroundings.
This research has shown, as we suspected, very variable practice in different planning authorities. It also contains excellent advice, based on recent case studies around the country, which we hope will encourage all planners to seize the opportunity to negotiate better planning agreements for the benefit of the local community and the countryside.
To do this, planners need to put the right plans and policy frameworks in place at the outset - to show developers what they expect of them and why. Successful planning authorities also ensure that developers provide the money for long-term maintenance of the land and facilities provided, usually through an independent management trust, as described in the report.
"Countryside benefits from developer contributions" is available from The Research and Publications Secretary, School of Planning, Oxford Brookes University, Gipsy Lane Campus, Headington, Oxford OX30BP. Tel: 01865 483491. Price £15 (plus £2.50 p&p).