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New partnership responds to South East Plan

7 May 2009

Government publication of the final South East Plan, setting the region’s planning framework for the next 20 years, has received a cautious welcome by the new partnership body responsible for its delivery.

The South East Plan now:

  • sets a housing target of 32,700 homes a year. Milton Keynes, Reigate and Banstead, Brighton and Hove, and Winchester face slight reductions on targets proposed last year, but this is an overall increase on the 32,000 recommended by inspectors.
  • confirms Green Belt reviews at Oxford and Guildford
  • has removed all references to ‘minimum’ housing numbers
  • calls for infrastructure delivery programmes to be agreed before major new developments begin.

The new South East England Partnership Board now joins up local government – via South East England Councils (SEEC) – and SEEDA to make key regional decisions, and deliver an integrated strategy for transport, housing, economic development and the environment.

The change is a result of Government’s decision to streamline regional decision-making. And to make way for these new ways of working, the South East England Regional Assembly – the body that prepared the South East Plan for Government - was dissolved on 31 March 2009.

The Partnership Board is now responsible for implementing South East Plan policies and creating a new, integrated strategy that incorporates SEEDA’s Regional Economic Strategy. It will work closely with delivery agencies, such as the Homes and Communities Agency, the Highways Agency and other stakeholder groups.

Former Assembly Chairman and now Chairman of SEEC, Cllr Paul Carter said: "We are pleased to see that Government has listened to our concerns, particularly removing references to minimum housing numbers. The global recession remains the big issue and these housing numbers seem somewhat hypothetical in the current economic climate. The big challenge to us in the South East is how we create the environment where house builders have the appetite to take risks and build.

"The South East continues to require greater infrastructure investment than the Government has allocated; this remains a critical issue.

"The new Partnership Board provides everyone with an opportunity to develop our priorities in the region, ensuring we come out stronger after the recession, while improving our residents’ quality of life.

"The South East is the powerhouse of the UK economy, but needs sustained Government investment if the region is to pull itself and the rest of the country out of recession.

"Building on the region’s experience, the local government executive board members of South East England Councils and SEEDA board members will take forward the development and delivery of a single regional strategy."

Jim Brathwaite CBE, Chairman of SEEDA and Chair of the new Partnership Board, said: "Publication of the final South East Plan is a great milestone after years of hard work – but our focus now must be on delivering what it says. We need the homes set out in the Plan so that key workers can afford to live in the South East and we need better infrastructure to support the region’s economy.

"Going forward, our economic performance is clearly critical to the South East’s future success, so our role in bringing a business-led voice to the new integrated regional strategy is essential. We take our role in this new shared, decision-making forum very seriously and look forward to working with SEEC to agree the best outcomes for the South East. We have worked well together over the past 10 years but now the new integrated strategy offers potential for much closer alignment of policies and decisions that will help deliver a better quality of life for all our residents."

For media enquiries, please contact:

Heather Bolton, Director of Communications, SEEDA
Tel: 01483 501398
Email: heatherbolton@seeda.co.uk

James Fulker, Press Officer, SEEDA
Tel: 01483 484200
Email: pressoffice@seeda.co.uk

View the full media release.

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