My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Parmjit Dhanda) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Communities is today publishing for consultation her proposed changes to the draft revision of the regional spatial strategy for the north-west of England.
The regional spatial strategy forms part of the statutory development plan for every local authority in the north-west, 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, and provides the policy framework for employment, housing, transport and the environment.
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 January 2006 by the North West Regional Assembly. It was subsequently tested in an examination in public between November 2006 and February 2007 and the report of the independent panel which conducted this examination was published in May 2007.
The Secretary of State has considered the recommendations of this independent panel which held the examination in public, and has taken into account the representations made on the draft revision, and also changes in government policy since the draft revision was submitted.
Today's publication of the Secretary of State’s proposed changes now represents the commencement of a public consultation until 23 May 2008. Also being published are the reports of a sustainability appraisal of the proposed changes and a habitats regulations assessment.
Following consideration of the responses to the consultation, the Secretary of State hopes to publish the finalised regional spatial strategy for the north-west of England in July 2008. On final publication it will supersede the current RSS.
Copies of the relevant documents are available in the Libraries of both Houses and have been provided for all of the region’s MPs, MEPs and local authorities.