News From Creating Excellence: RDA Press Release - Strategy could do more for economy
The Regional Spatial Strategy must be more positive about the future of South West England - or the region could miss out on major economic opportunities.
The warning comes from the South West of England Regional Development Agency (RDA) as it prepares to give evidence at a public examination on the draft Regional Spatial Strategy starting tomorrow Tuesday, 17 April.
The strategy sets out a framework for the scale, type and location of development needed in the region up to the year 2026. The South West RDA believes it must give more emphasis to the needs of a growing economy and population. This will secure wider benefits such as affordable housing and investment in the environment, and avoid the mistakes made in the past by under planning for the economic growth.
In its evidence, the South West RDA will highlight the links between a successful economy and the benefits to people in cities, towns and rural areas. In particular, it believes the region must plan for more homes to underpin continued strong economic performance.
Jane Henderson, chief executive of the South West RDA, said: "There is much to be welcomed in the draft spatial strategy, but some of the more detailed elements, such as housing provision, are at odds with its broad support for economic growth.
"We need to accept that growth will happen and plan for a continuation of our economic success. The challenge is to ensure that a successful economy is also a sustainable one. The continued growth of key places such as Bristol, Bournemouth, Poole, Exeter and Plymouth must go hand-in-hand with their successful regeneration, resulting in communities where people want to live and work, and visit.
She added: "The past 10 years have shown the dangers of not being prepared for strong economic growth and not providing enough housing, contributing to an environmental footprint twice the size it should be.
"Getting the spatial strategy right is crucial to the future of our businesses, people, places and environment. It's challenging but it can be done!"
Ms Henderson also flagged up the need for the spatial strategy to make the most of the region's strength in sectors such as environmental technology and sustainable tourism by planning for their growth.
The RDA's evidence has been informed by the region's businesses through consultation. It will be suggesting a number of ways in which it thinks the spatial strategy could plan more positively for the region's future and ensure a closer fit with the Regional Economic Strategy (RES). These include:
- Recognising the economic opportunities of climate change and helping to secure growth within environment limits.
- Helping the region to become more productive, making the most of advances in technology and skills development.
- Helping the West of England, including Bristol, achieve its ambition to be one of Europe's fastest growing and most prosperous areas by addressing shortages in housing and employment land.
- Further promotion of Exeter as a major economic player, with an emphasis on high quality jobs and housing.
- Helping improve Plymouth's economic performance.
- Greater support for the increasingly diverse economic activity in rural communities.