Select Committee on Office of the Deputy Prime Minister: Housing, Planning, Local Government and the Regions Memoranda

Memorandum by Devon and Cornwall Business Council (GRI 27)

  My Council have been involved in a number of Urban Regeneration Initiatives on a local basis, sub-regional and regional level.

  We have experienced considerable difficulty in resolving tensions between specific local initiatives and the framework already established for local or structure plan policies.

  This has been particularly evident where the administrative boundaries do not coincide with travel to work areas; for example, Plymouth fits within the Devon Structure Plan Area, but draws 25 per cent of its labour force from East Cornwall.

  It is also clear that the speed of change within the Structure Plan process can seldom react quickly enough to the dynamics of regeneration initiatives.

  We have positively identified the needs to take business groups into the regeneration process from the outset and have found specific encouragement from City Growth Strategy. It has also proved necessary at the inception stage to "ring-fence" public sector and private sector funding. The engagement of business groups needs to be extended to evolve a social enterprise strategy.

  Wider engagement with a broad range of community groups in our experience results in undeliverable wish lists and protracted delays in identifying a clear focused programme.

  In order to ensure sustainable development in areas of multiple deprivation, we have established that this can only be achieved by a "top-down" and "bottom-up" process. This, in our experience, is the only way to improve GDP and average income streams.

  We have no experience of the closure of regeneration initiatives as none of the schemes we are currently involved with have reached this stage. Equally, none of our schemes have yet fully demonstrated outputs and measurable levels in order that the information can be used as part of a long-term strategy. It is clear that the holistic basis utilised by City Growth have extracted the best practice from a range of earlier initiatives and that this can provide a clearly defined delivery mechanism to a broad range of interest groups. It has also identified the weakness of many programmes which lack accurate and up to date economic and social intelligence.

  It is our view that sufficient information is now available through the Regional Development Agencies to identify when, where and how new initiatives should be deployed.

  We would welcome the opportunity of making a direct submission to your committee if this was felt appropriate and time permits.

Tim Jones


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