Explanatory Notes

Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004

2004 CHAPTER 5

13th May 2004

Commentary on Sections

Part 1: Regional Functions

Section 1: Regional spatial strategy

24.Section 1 provides for a regional spatial strategy (RSS) in every region other than London. The RSS must set out the Secretary of State's policies (however expressed) in relation to the development and use of land in the region. These policies must be concerned with the use and development of land, but they need not be directly related to the grant or refusal of planning permission. They could include, for example, congestion charging policies. The RSS can include different policies for different areas within the region.

25.Existing regional planning guidance issued by the Secretary of State will become the RSS. But it is only the regional planning guidance which the Secretary of State prescribes in regulations which will become the RSS. This is to enable the Secretary of State to decide, where there is a range of regional planning guidance in a region, which should become the RSS.

Section 2: Regional planning bodies

26.Section 2 enables the Secretary of State to recognise a body as the regional planning body (RPB) for a region (and to withdraw that recognition). The Secretary of State must not recognise a body as the RPB unless at least 60% of its members are members of county councils or local planning authorities. Where there is no such body the Secretary of State may himself exercise those functions of an RPB which he thinks appropriate. But it would not be appropriate, for example, for the Secretary of State to report to himself under section 3 on the implementation of the RSS.

27.A change in the membership of a body which is not incorporated does not affect the validity of the Secretary of State’s recognition of that body as an RPB. This will prevent the need for the Secretary of State to issue a new direction recognising a body as the RPB every time a member of an unincorporated RPB is replaced.

Section 3: RPB: general functions

28.Section 3 defines the general functions of the RPB. In particular, the RPB must keep the RSS and matters affecting development in its region under review. It must also monitor and report on the implementation of the RSS.

Section 4: Assistance from certain local authorities

29.This section requires an RPB to seek advice from county councils and other types of authorities with strategic planning expertise in keeping the RSS under review and monitoring its implementation and preparing draft revisions of the RSS. These authorities must give this advice. The RPB may make arrangements with these authorities and district councils for the authority or council to discharge functions on its behalf. The section allows the RPB to reimburse an authority for any expenditure incurred under such an arrangement.

Section 5: RSS revision

30.Section 5 explains when a draft revision of the RSS is to be prepared and what matters the RPB must consider when preparing a revision. Along with the draft revision the RPB must prepare, publish and submit a sustainability appraisal of the draft revision, together with any other documents prescribed in regulations, to the Secretary of State. Where the RPB decides to prepare different policies for different areas within the region, the detailed proposals must first be made by an authority with strategic planning expertise. The RPB may withdraw a draft revision at any time before it submits it to the Secretary of State.

Section 6: RSS: community involvement

31.Section 6 requires the RPB to prepare, publish and comply with a statement of its policy for involving interested parties in its functions in relation to preparing a draft RSS revision.

Sections 7-10: RSS

32.These sections set out the Secretary of State's functions in relation to a draft revision of an RSS and provide, as part of the consultation process, for the holding of an examination in public.

33.Following submission of a draft revision to the Secretary of State, anyone may make representations on the draft and the Secretary of State may arrange for an examination in public. It is the Secretary of State's intention that it will only be in the exceptional circumstances of a minor revision, and subject to the criteria set out in section 7(4), that there will not be an examination. The examination is held before a person appointed by the Secretary of State who must report his findings to the Secretary of State. No one has a right to be heard at the examination. The Secretary of State must consider the report of the examination together with any representations made on the draft RSS (to the extent that these have not already been considered during the course of an examination) before publishing any changes he proposes to make with the reasons for them. After considering any representations on the draft changes, the Secretary of State must publish the revision to the RSS with reasons for any changes unless he withdraws it.

34.The Secretary of State may direct an RPB to prepare a draft revision of the RSS and may specify which aspects of the RSS are to be revised and within what time frame. Where the RPB fails to act in accordance with such a direction, or where the RPB fails to comply with certain regulations made by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of State may prepare a draft revision and make regulations as to the manner in which this will occur. The Secretary of State may revoke all or parts of an RSS if he thinks it necessary to do so.

Section 11 - 12: Regulations and Supplementary

35.Section 11 gives the Secretary of State power to make regulations in connection with the exercise by any person of functions under Part 1. Section 12 provides that the Secretary of State for the purposes of Part 1 is that Secretary of State with general responsibility for planning policy. (The only exception is in relation to national policies and advice contained in guidance to which an RPB must have regard in preparing draft RSS revisions, which may be issued by any Secretary of State.) It defines a region in accordance with the Regional Development Agencies Act 1998.