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Yorkshire and Humber Plan

Volume 476: debated on Wednesday 21 May 2008

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government is publishing today the Yorkshire and Humber Plan, the revised Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS), replacing the RSS published in December 2004.

The Yorkshire and Humber Plan is crucial to delivering the Government’s sustainable communities and growth agenda in the region. It builds on the foundation of the draft plan published by the Yorkshire and Humber Assembly in 2006 and takes account of the two rounds of public consultation and independent Examination in Public that followed. In total 2,276 representations were received from 201 people and organisations. Over a third of these representations were expressions of support, while the remainder suggested further or alternative changes to the RSS. I have considered all of these representations, and also updates to the Sustainability Appraisal/Strategic Environmental Assessment and Habitat Regulations Assessment required under the legislation which confirm that the revised plan should help deliver sustainable development. I have decided that no further major policy changes are required, although amendments and clarifications have been made to various parts of the plan.

The most notable aspects of the final revisions to the plan are as follows:

Confirmation of the Spatial Vision and Core Approach of the plan as set out in the proposed changes, with recognition of Bradford as a “Regional City” (in addition to Leeds, Sheffield and Hull) and the addition of a reference to helping to deliver the target set in the regional economic strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Confirmation of the increased levels of housing growth set out in the proposed changes (over 22,000 per year between 2008 and 2026), with minor increases in three rural districts. This is supported by a new policy, based on Planning Policy Statement 3 Housing and other elements of the plan, to manage the step up in delivery that this requires.

Confirmation of the increased levels of potential job growth as set out in the proposed changes, with clarification of how these are intended to be delivered in different parts of the region through detailed wording to the policies about city and town centres and employment land reviews.

Confirmation of the policy set out in the proposed changes that local authorities should set targets for decentralised and renewable or low-carbon energy in new development, with the addition of an interim target of 10 per cent. to be used in certain circumstances.

Recognition of Robin Hood Airport as a regionally significant investment priority, operational and related development at the airport, and development elsewhere in South Yorkshire arising from the airport’s important role as an economic driver.

The plan represents a step change in addressing housing need in Yorkshire and the Humber but falls short of what is likely to be required in the longer term to meet the Government’s Housing Green Paper target. The Yorkshire and Humber Assembly are committed to carrying out a further partial review of the plan to consider housing growth, taking account of latest evidence, Eco Towns and New Growth Points. This will be completed by 2011 as required by the Green Paper.

Copies of the Yorkshire and Humber plan are available in the Libraries of both Houses and have been provided for all the region’s MPs and MEPs. Copies will be sent today to all local authorities, the Yorkshire and Humber Assembly and Yorkshire Forward (the Regional Development Agency). Hundreds of other stakeholders will be informed of how to obtain a copy.