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South East of England Regional Spatial Strategy

Volume 479: debated on Thursday 17 July 2008

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government is today publishing proposed changes to the draft revisions to the regional spatial strategy for the South East (The South East Plan).

The regional spatial strategy forms part of the statutory development plan for every local authority in the South East, and sets the framework for the production of local development frameworks and local transport plans. It provides the spatial plan for the development of the region, providing the policy framework for employment, housing, transport and the environment over the next 20 years.

The current strategy, initially published as regional planning guidance, became the regional spatial strategy in September 2004 with the enactment of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act. A draft revision of the regional spatial strategy was submitted to Government in March 2006 by the South East England Regional Assembly. It was subsequently tested in an examination in public (EIP) between December 2006 and March 2007 and the report of the independent panel which conducted the examination was published in August 2007.

The Secretary of State has considered the recommendations of the independent panel and has taken into account the representations made on the draft revision and any recent changes in Government policy.

Today’s publication of the Secretary of State’s proposed changes represents the commencement of a public consultation period which will close on 24 October 2008. Also being published for comment are the reports of a sustainability appraisal and a habitats regulations assessment of the proposed changes. A non-technical summary is available of these documents.

Following consideration of the responses to consultation, the Secretary of State expects to be able to publish the finalised regional spatial strategy for the South East by the end of the year. On final publication it will supersede the current RSS.

I have written to the chairman of the regional assembly to give notice of the publication of the proposed changes and thanked the assembly and its staff for their hard work in preparing the draft revisions.

The documents will be accessible from today on the Government Office for the South East website and made available in the Libraries of both Houses.

Copies will be provided for all of the region’s MPs, MEPs and local authorities, and sent to all those who participated in the EIP and other interested parties and organisations required by the regulations.