Senior Planning Officer
Jennifer is a Senior Planning Officer at Adur & Worthing Councils. She's been with the Planning Policy team for a year and works on a range of projects including preparation of the Worthing Local Plan which, when adopted, will guide future development in the borough.
Jennifer is excited to be blogging about her work and is keen to talk about how it links up with wider projects taking place within the Councils.
Before she joined the Planning Policy team, Jennifer worked in Planning Policy at Test Valley Borough Council for six years. Prior to that, she was a Teacher Associate at Oxford Brookes University.
Outside of work, Jennifer enjoys travelling and has a passion for architecture and design - London and Liverpool are her favourite cities. She also loves seeking inspiration from Instagram for her travels, particularly keeping an eye out for trendy cafes and restaurants to visit.
See also: Planning Policy
You can read Jennifer's current blog posts on this page below:
Another week rolls around and this time, the 'economy' is under the blogging spotlight. My blogs to date have covered quite a lot of themes already, which just goes to show how diverse planning policy is!
Planning policy isn't all about houses ... we also have to take into account the future demand for new employment floorspace and where employment land should be located. This is a challenge given that Adur and Worthing are both very built up. We also need to be aware of the changing economic landscape and how this is creating new and emerging industries such as digital technology, science and research, with other industries declining.
What do we mean by 'employment' in planning policy terms? Planning Regulations put land and buildings into various categories known as 'Use Classes'. The 'B' Use Class includes offices, research and development, general industry and storage and distribution. Whilst retail and leisure uses are important for the economy in terms of providing jobs, they are not recognised as employment uses by the Use Classes Order - so it can get quite complicated!
We have to plan carefully what types of employment uses can be accommodated and where they can be located. We need to ensure that the necessary infrastructure is in place to ensure that there is no conflict with nearby residential properties. For instance, some employment industries have operational requirements that could be quite noisy as a result of machinery or lorry movements, and therefore these industries tend to be located near major roads and away from residential areas.
It's also really important that we consider the 'compatibility' of employment uses in a given area, such as on a business park or an industrial site, to ensure that there is no conflict between the operations of unit occupiers. If there is conflict between neighbouring units this could have an impact on business generation and may ultimately result in a occupier searching for alternative premises to relocate to.
Adur District Council is currently undergoing public consultation on its draft Supplementary Planning Document. This gives guidance on Policy 25 of the Adur Local Plan, which seeks to protect existing employment sites and uses. Given the changing economic climate, alternative employers are wishing to occupy empty premises on existing employment land. There are few readily-available and unconstrained sites in Adur to provide new employment floorspace, so it's important that existing sites are protected to ensure a sufficient range of opportunities for people to work in the area and for businesses to locate and grow.
Although the Councils seek to protect employment sites, we also recognise the need for flexibility, and that in some limited circumstances there may be a genuine case for the loss of part/all of an existing employment site for another use. The draft Supplementary Planning Document sets out the circumstances where change of use or redevelopment to alternative uses may be appropriate, and the criteria which would have to be satisfied in order to obtain planning permission for these alternative uses. It also seeks to ensure that the loss of any existing employment site (land or premises) is not at the expense of the local economy.
Worthing Borough Council also has an adopted 'Sustainable Economy' Supplementary Planning Document giving guidance on Core Strategy Policy 4 and Policy 5.
Please let us know what you think by 11th February 2019! The draft document and further information about the consultation can be found here.
I'm back on the blogging circuit after a few weeks' break. It feels good to be back and the festive break has given me the opportunity to identify blogging topics which I'm looking forward to sharing with you. Ready? I am ... so let the 2019 blogging journey commence!
Are you stuck for inspiration on what to do on a free day in January? I recommend visiting the Design Museum in London to see the 'Peter Barber: 100 Mile City and Other Stories' free exhibition which is available until the 6th February 2019: Peter Barber is an acclaimed British architect and urbanist who is passionate about the current housing crisis and is working at the forefront of this field.
Photo: 100 Mile City and Other Stories exhibition in The Design Museum
The Government has set a national target for 300,000 new homes to be built in England each year.The provision of new homes is a very challenging and complex aspect of policy planning, centred around key questions of where, how and when. As in many parts of the the South East, the opportunities for significant residential development are extremely limited in Adur and Worthing. Policy planners are having to be innovative and look at design-led solutions to help deliver good quality and attractive housing to accommodate the diverse needs of society within an increasingly built up urban environment (please see my blog on housing density 13th November 2018).
I found the exhibition inspiring. Primarily it focused on showcasing social housing schemes in London designed by Peter Barber. The exhibition considers the type of building materials as well as the layout of buildings - for instance, being centred around a central courtyard garden or square, and how this can offer opportunities for people to meet, foster a sense of belonging, and introduce 'green' spaces. It's impossible to encapsulate the successes of all the featured schemes into this blog, however further information can be found on Peter Barber Architects website.
Photo: Showcasing Donnybrook Quarter, Hackney, in the Design Museum
The exhibition made me question the concept of 'design', which means the process of envisioning and planning the creation of an object (i.e. building) with users at the heart of the design thinking approach. It made me really appreciate how principles of 'design' such as colour, texture, use of space, functionality etc can create exciting, attractive, safe and successful places. When considering these elements, the focus should be on the end user such as the resident.
Here in Adur and Worthing, we are encouraging new development proposals to be of a high architectural and design quality that respects and enhances the character and the prevailing character of the area. This includes the consideration of proportion, form, design, context, massing, siting, layout, density height, size, scale, materials, landscaping etc. We have addressed this through the Adur Local Plan Policy 15 and draft Worthing Local Plan Policy CP5.
Design has great potential. It is being influenced by technology and is having to adapt and mitigate for a changing climate. We have to ensure that design meets the needs of people at all stages of their lives ... design is our everyday living, here and in the future.
Photo: Peter Barber's architect models on display in The Design Museum
That's the line I saw on a poster from the West Sussex Library Service recently.
Shall I let you in on a little secret ...? My favourite thing to do on my lunch break is visiting Worthing library, which is very conveniently located next door to my office. It's like walking into an Aladdin's Cave of exciting books, all waiting to be read.
Why do I like libraries so much? Firstly, I love reading. Simple as that. I like the fact that reading can take me on a journey of discovery and I can temporarily switch off from reality and get lost in my world of imagination.
Secondly, I think libraries are such a vital community facility. They provide a valuable resource of information for people researching local or family history, those wishing to access information about local services, children learning to read and students studying for their exams, as well as providing I.T. / printing facilities. They are also a place where people can meet, helping to reduce loneliness. Libraries help to improve the health and social and cultural wellbeing for all sections of the community.
So, what have libraries have got to do with my day job?
National Planning Policy requires Local Plans to plan positively for the provision and use of shared spaces. These include community facilities (such as local shops, meeting places, sports venues, open space, cultural buildings, public houses and places of worship) as well as other local services to enhance the sustainability of communities and residential environments.
Libraries across the country are becoming 'community hubs', where local services are being brought together into one community venue as well as providing work space for digital and business innovation. Community hubs help to make services more accessible as well as helping to maintain the viability of the library itself.
Planning Policies seek to safeguard against the unnecessary loss of valued facilities and services, particularly where this would reduce the community's ability to meet its day-to-day needs. Should an application be submitted that would result in the loss of a community facility, the Councils would expect that a replacement facility of a similar nature is provided and that it can be demonstrated that the current premises are longer required or viable in their existing use.
If you are interested in finding out more, please refer to:
- Adur Local Plan Policy 33: 'Planning for Sustainable Communities'
- and the draft Worthing Local Plan Policy CP9: 'Planning for Sustainable Communities / Community Facilities'
Adur & Worthing Councils also work with West Sussex County Council as part of our ongoing work to identify infrastructure requirements to help accommodate future growth within Adur and Worthing. Libraries are classed as 'social infrastructure' and therefore the County needs to be kept informed of planned development within Local Plans to help them plan for the long-term future of libraries.
When we undertake public consultation on Local Plans, we provide a hard copy of the document in the local library as we recognise that not everyone has access to a computer or a digital device.
I shall be taking a break from blogging over the Christmas period and I shall return in January! All that remains is to say I hope everyone all has a lovely Christmas and all the best for 2019!
Photo: Worthing Library
Photo: Leakey's Book Shop in Inverness, a former chapel converted into a bookshop
Photo: Readers outside a book shop in Tokyo - shows that the love of reading is universal!
I’ve just returned to work having spent a long weekend break in Talinn, Estonia with friends. I had forgotten what ‘cold’ actually felt like until I was greeted by bitterly cold temperatures of minus five!
The main cultural highlight of Talinn is its ‘Old Town’, which is a United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site. It was registered in 1997 in recognition of being an outstanding and well-preserved example of a medieval northern European trading city.
Talinn didn’t disappoint. The Old Town is characterised by narrow winding pebbled streets, medieval buildings and historic city walls. It is split into two areas: the upper town which comprises of Tommpea Hill (limestone) and the lower town at the foot of Toompea Hill. At this time of year it is particularly magical against the backdrop of festive lights and the Christmas market.
Photo: A nice view of the St Olaf's Church in Tallinn
On our second day, my friends and I woke up early to climb up Toompea Hill to watch the sunrise over the city of Talinn. It was such a beautiful sight to see Toompea Castle and Alexander Nevksy Cathedral (Russian Orthodox) and it was all the more enjoyable as it was so quiet it felt like we had the place to ourselves. We walked to a viewing platform on the hill and we could see the lower town and its historic skyline with the modern buildings and Talinn City Port in the distance.
Estonia gained independence from Russia in 1991 and therefore Tallinn is now creating its own identity and diversifying its economy which is being reflected in the development of the city. Whilst the Old Town is preserved in time, outside of the city walls Talinn is developing its business district and urban regeneration is taking place with former industrial buildings being given a new lease of life.
It was fascinating to visit the Rotermann Quarter, which in the 19th century developed as an industrial area for the production and storage of starch, flour, pasta etc. Today, it is a mixed-use development of residential apartments, commercial offices comprising of design and digital studios, restaurants, bars and shops. The regeneration of the Quarter has been done sensitively and respects the existing historic fabric of former mill and factory buildings. I really liked the fusion of old and new architecture reflecting Talinn’s historic past but showing that the city is now looking to its future.
Photo: Jennifer's picture of the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Tallinn
After doing some googling up on Tallinn, I discovered that just like Worthing, Talinn is also preparing a new ‘Development Plan 2021 +’ with Talinn City Government asking its residents the following:
“What will Tallinn be like in 10, 15, or 20 years’ time? How do we position ourselves in the Baltic Sea region, in the European Union or globally? What kind of education will be available in Tallinn, how will we move around and which services will we consume? We would like to get answers to these and other questions through the preparation of the new Tallinn Development Plan.” See the plan here.
Whilst Estonia is a small country and has a population of 1.3 million (the UK has a population of 66 million), Tallinn is not immune from development pressures, therefore necessitating the need for a planning system. Despite different geographical scales between Tallinn and Adur and Worthing, there is a mutual link in that we both follow a similar planning policy approach through the use of a ‘plan-led’ system as a mechanism for sustainable management of the built and natural environment.
This brings me to wrap up this blog with a reminder that the draft Worthing Local Plan consultation closes tomorrow (Wednesday 12th December) at 5pm. If you would like to let us know your views on the draft Plan, please click here.
Photo: Jennifer on her long weekend in Estonia
We seem to be living in the 'Digital Age' where we are going about our day-to-day lives through our digital devices. I actually wonder how many times a day I use my phone for general browsing, paying bills, booking appointments, or looking up train times - all easily done at a touch of a button and a swipe.
It's not just our personal lives that digital technology is having an impact on. It also has a key role to play in business, the voluntary sector, and the delivery of public sector services.
Digital has a multitude of benefits: ease of access to information, improving efficiency, creating collaboration networks and making effective use of resources ... but did you know that planning policy is also becoming increasingly digital based?
The reason I'm writing this blog is because of a recent article published by the Royal Town Planning Institute announcing that they have teamed up with Future Cities Catapult (a government support centre for the advancement of smart cities). They are reaching out to planners and encouraging us to embrace the digital revolution and utilise digital tools and approaches in our planning work. They are championing the concept of 'smart cities' where data, technology and governance is combined to improve the performance of infrastructure networks and thus create more liveable urban areas.
Smart Cities and improved use of geographical information systems (GIS) is also about the co-ordination and linking of data which can still be quite disparate. Joined up data also allows for a one 'stop-shop' - for example a click on a property could provide information on planning history, school catchment, or council tax band:
This has got me thinking about some of the work that goes on in my team ...
When we are looking at suitable land to allocate for development within our Local Plans, we use software to help us identify site specific constraints. We check to see what environmental constraints there might be i.e. flooding, contamination etc. We look at maps and apply map layers (comprising of a particular theme of data) through Geographical Information Systems. Examples of map layers include data on listed buildings, tree preservation orders, and locations of utility infrastructure.
We create sophisticated maps to show development allocations and policy designations, which can be viewed in a downloadable format but also through interactive mapping. Not that long ago, maps would have been created by hand or through very basic computer software, with the public having to visit the Councils' offices to view hard copies. As an example, the interactive map for Adur Local Plan (2017).
Photo: Jennifer working on the Worthing Local Plan mapping
The Policy team are thinking creatively about how we can communicate our work to the public and improve opportunities to engage within the planning system. Through our consultation on the draft Worthing Local Plan, we've really noticed the power of social media as a platform to advertise consultation: a re-tweet here and a re-post there all helps to spread the word.
To help us do this, my fellow blogger Kristy kindly prepared a video in her personal time to help advertise the consultation on the draft Worthing Local Plan and brought it to life through animation. I was very proud that the video received lots of views on social media and it really shows that it is an effective digital tool to reach our public, so thank you Kristy!
Whilst digital technology is the way forward, we are mindful that not all our residents have access to a computer or digital device, and that some people prefer pen and paper. We are therefore making sure that people are able to view hard copies of our Local Plan and supporting documents, and that they are able to share feedback with us by filling out a paper copy comment form.
I recently visited Rochdale, Greater Manchester which is where I originate from ... yes, I am a northern girl at heart! For those that don't know, Rochdale is the birthplace of co-operation and is also home to two famous female singers, one of whom was a prominent singer during World War II ... I will reveal their names at the end of this blog.
When visiting places, whether it's in the UK or abroad, I am always on the look-out for interesting design and architecture. I never really fully switch off from my job as it is an essential part of our role to research best practice examples of place-making and learn what works, what doesn't, and why. So, I am always looking for inspiration when I am on my travels and I find it really intriguing to observe how place-making of our built environment is constantly evolving and adapting to the changing nature of the demands of society and the environment.
A few years ago, Rochdale undertook an ambitious heritage project as part of the wider regeneration of its town centre, to reveal the River Roch and historic bridge in the town centre. In the early 1900s, the bridge and the river (which was once vital to the town's economy) was covered over as part of developing Rochdale town centre and making way for trams. However, Rochdale received a £1.2 million funding grant from Heritage Lottery fund and the historic bridge and river are now on display once again. This has helped to improve the public realm of Rochdale town centre.
Whilst the project was a celebration of Rochdale's historic past, the opening of the River Roch has created environmental benefits, with reduced flood risk in the town centre as well as encouraging wildlife into the area.
Rochdale won a national Planning award for this project in 2016 in recognition of demonstrating Excellent in Planning for the Natural Environment. More information about the project can be viewed here:
Photos: The River Roch and historic bridge in Rochdale town centre
Whilst visiting Rochdale town centre, I also went to have a look at the new statue of Gracie Fields (yes ... one of the famous singers from Rochdale!) and it was very moving given that the statue was surrounded by a landscaped Remembrance memorial.
The other famous singer is Lisa Stansfield - we both used to live on the same street!
Photos: The new statue of Gracie Fields and the landscaped Remembrance memorial in Rochdale
Another week rolls around ... five weeks now till Christmas Day ... not that I am counting!
Talking of time, we are now halfway through public consultation on our draft Worthing Local Plan, with consultation closing on Wednesday 12th December 2018. So please make your views known and get your comments submitted to us as soon as possible.
We had our first public drop-in session last Wednesday on the draft Worthing Local Plan and we are hosting one more session this Friday 23rd November 2018 from 10am to 3pm at the Gordon Room, Worthing Town Hall (please use the entrance via Stoke Abbott Road). If you have time, we would strongly encourage you to come along and view the consultation materials and pick up some summary leaflets on the key topic areas of the draft Plan. Council officers will be available to answer any questions you may have.
Photo: Looking at mapping in the Draft Worthing Local Plan
You may have heard that today is #OurDay, a day for local government to come together in an online celebration of public services, and showcase a 'day in the life' of local government. I think that this is very timely, given that it was really encouraging to hear from people who attended the drop in session last week about the way in which they found out about public consultation and expressing their interest to be engaged in the draft Worthing Local Plan process.
People heard about consultation through different methods, ranging from social media, email, local libraries, and the Worthing Herald newspaper, to name but a few. This reinforces the importance of using a variety of consultation methods to try and ensure as many people as possible in the community can be reached. We also recognise that not everyone has access to the internet, so we have paper copies of the draft Plan for reference purposes at the Council Offices reception area at Portland Road and the Town Hall, as well as in local libraries.
Meanwhile in the Planning Policy team, we're in factory production-line mode, getting on with receiving, processing and reading your comments. This will get busier nearer the consultation deadline, where we expect comments to come in thick and fast. It's a bit like the Christmas period at the Royal Mail's sorting office!
I hope to see you at our last public drop-in session on Friday! If you are unable to make it, we also have an unmanned exhibition display at the Council Offices at Portland House reception area, which will be available till Wednesday 12th December 2018.
One of the key challenges that Policy Planners are faced with is identifying suitable land for development, such as building new homes.
The main reason we need to build new homes is due to population growth. However, there are also other factors that contribute - and this is something I think is fascinating, as it shows how society is changing. People are living longer, so the birth rate is preceding the death rate, and there is the trend of people pursuing careers first and renting / buying properties as a singleton. There is also an increase in divorce rates, which also has an impact on the demand for housing. High property prices in London and Brighton is resulting in a domestic movement of migration to Adur and Worthing, and this aspect is one of the key drivers of housing demand.
Adur and Worthing are relatively small administrative areas, bounded by the South Downs National Park to the north and the coast to the south. Land availability is such a scarce resource and there are competing demands for its use. Given the need for additional homes, it is important that the limited land available is used efficiently. As such, we need to ensure that the concentration of new residential development is maximised, subject to being built at a density that is appropriate to the character and landscape of the area. So in other words, we are looking to build upwards and, where appropriate, maximise the air space above us as well as intensification of backland / rear garden development. We do recognise that higher density developments may not be appropriate for some specific groups, such as the elderly, those with disabilities and families with young children, so we do also need to provide a range of different types of homes.
It's interesting seeing how other places in the world are responding to the challenge of growing population vs. limited land availability. Hong Kong, for example, is the most densely populated city in the world, and has developed vertically, with the majority of people living in apartments. Hong Kong experiences many advantages with its high density developments such as an efficient transport system, reduced energy consumption and infrastructure costs. While this is an extreme example and very geographically different to Adur and Worthing, it shows how Planners, Architects, Urban Designers and communities are working together to develop innovative and liveable ways of accommodating the growing urban population within a constrained geography.
Why can't we build out to sea? If Dubai and the Netherlands can do it, why can't we? Worthing Borough Council has looked at 'land reclamation' (as part of exploring options for the draft Worthing Local Plan), but this is a very costly and highly complex engineering process which is therefore not a viable option for us to pursue.
So, what can we learn from Hong Kong and what approach should we take in Adur and Worthing? Building higher densities does not mean compromising high quality design and quality environments. It provides the opportunity to be innovative and creative and we have adopted and drafted policies to ensure that sufficient external space around and between new homes is provided, and that adequate privacy and daylight to both existing and new homes is not compromised. We recognise that high density needs to be balanced against the desire to provide a good living environment, and that new homes should provide sufficient internal space for everyday activities.
If you would like to find out more, please view Policy 22 in the Adur Local Plan, and the draft Policy CP2 in the draft Worthing Local Plan. Even better, please come and view the draft Worthing Local Plan this Wednesday 14th November 2018 from 3pm to 8:30pm in the Gordon Room (entrance via Stoke Abbott Road), Worthing Town Hall, Chapel Road, Worthing, BN11 1HA.
Image: Artist's impression of new homes proposed at West Durrington
I'm pleased to say that all went well as planned on the 31st October 2018 and that there were no technical glitches! Phew ...!
I have been thinking about what to write this week, and it dawned on me that I should blog about my recent tour of the Houses of Parliament, or the Palace of Westminster as it is also known, and how it relates to planning policy. I went on the personal tour following a recommendation and it was well worth a visit!
Did you know that planning is based on law? We have to make sure that we undertake planning duties in accordance with Planning Acts, and follow the relevant planning legislation when preparing Local Plans and other planning policy documents. We have to check that we are in compliance with any legal requirements and be able to read and interpret planning legislation, which can be quite a challenge!
This can be very complex, especially when amendments to existing legislation are made. As a consequence we have to cross-reference various amendments and often need to tap into the expertise of our colleagues in the Councils' legal service to double check that we haven't overlooked anything or misinterpreted law.
We occasionally attend conferences hosted by professional lawyers and barristers that work in the field of planning law. It is really helpful for us to be kept informed of latest developments in the planning law world, as well being made aware of any legal issues and challenges.
So...how does this relate to the Houses of Parliament? When planning law is made, it starts off as a 'Bill,' which is a proposal for a new law, or a proposal to change an existing law, presented for debate before Parliament. A Bill can start in the House of Commons or the House of Lords and it goes on a 'passage of parliament' journey with lots of readings and scrutiny, until the final version is approved by both the Commons and the Lords. The Bill then receives 'Royal Assent' and becomes an Act (law).
It was quite something walking around the House of Commons and the House of Lords knowing that it is where planning law is created.
See also: Draft Worthing Local Plan consultation
Photo: After the House of Parliament Tour, I wandered over to the Supreme Court which is located within Parliament Square. The Supreme Court is the highest court of law and also known as the final court of appeal.
Good Morning All.
I can’t believe we are in the last week of October already! I think it's definitely a case of time flies by when you are busy!
There has been a flurry of activity in the Planning Policy team over the last couple of weeks. You may have heard that the draft Worthing Local Plan is going out live to public consultation this Wednesday (31st October), which is a major milestone event in the preparation of Local Plans. It is really important that we are organised and ‘plan’ ahead for this consultation to ensure that it gets off to a smooth start, so yes...in some ways you could say that we are also ‘event planners’.
Photo: Dome Cinema on Marine Parade, Worthing
It’s not just a case of simply writing the Plan. For example, a leading actor in a play is surrounded by supporting actors. The same applies to the draft Local Plan, in that it is underpinned by evidence-based documents on different subject areas to ensure that the policies formulated are based on robust local evidence.
We have also been honing our design skills through through the creation of maps and consultation materials such as posters and summary leaflets, and applying graphics to the Plan to make it an appealing and hopefully interesting document to read! We appreciate that not everyone has time to read the Plan from front to back, so our leaflets will provide a summary of the key topic areas and signpost where further information can be found.
We have been busy working with the Councils’ communications team who have helped us to design a communication package to ensure that the consultation is advertised as widely as possible, such as through the use of social media, local newspapers, as well as providing hard copies of the Plan in local libraries and centres.
Photo: Worthing's Brooklands Lake gleaming after its environmental works
This consultation is your opportunity to have your say and help shape the future of Worthing.
We hope that you will get involved! We are hosting drop-in sessions where the public can view exhibition material, ask questions and fill in a comments form. The drop in sessions are being held on:
Wednesday 14th November 2018 (3pm to 8:30pm) in the Gordon Room (entrance via Stoke Abbott Road), Worthing Town Hall, Chapel Road, Worthing, West Sussex, BN11 1HA.
Friday 23rd November 2018 (10am to 3pm) in the Gordon Room (entrance via Stoke Abbott Road), Worthing Town Hall, Chapel Road, Worthing, West Sussex, BN11 1HA.
We hope to see you there! Alternatively, from the 31st October you can look at the Plan and supporting documents online, and send us your views via the electronic response form.
Please note that consultation will close on Wednesday 12th December 2018.
Photo: Worthing College students entering the campus
An area of Planning Policy that I am very passionate about is the relationship between 'health and planning'.
People are living longer due to advancements in medicine,and therefore we are experiencing a growing elderly population. As a result, across the country more people are being diagnosed with dementia and often requiring specialist housing accommodation. Other challenges include growing levels of obesity in children and adults, and increased rates of coronary heart disease.
It is quite an exciting time in my planning career, as there are new opportunities to collaborate with health professionals to better understand how we can work together using the planning system as a lever to promote health and wellbeing within Adur and Worthing. The Planning System is one of the many tools that can be used to address health issues.
Local Government has a long history of promoting and protecting the public's health. Let's go back in time and I will give a brief history lesson! During the 1700s and 1800s, the industrial revolution resulted in rapid urbanisation in cities which resulted in overcrowded and dirty living conditions with severe sanitary issues resulting in the spread of many diseases. As a result, the Public Health Act 1875 came into place and provided local authorities with new responsibilities. Authorities were obliged to provide clean water and dispose of all sewage and refuse and to ensure that new homes were connected to main sewerage system.
However by the 1970s, the NHS took over most public health functions but this wasn't to last due to the realisation that 'public health' is a local level issue with public health functions being reverted back to Local Government in 2012.
Since 2012, there has been an growing momentum in 'health and planning' due to an increasing appreciation of the connection between the environment in which we live, work and spend leisure time - both the physical nature of places and the social environment of communities - and how this has an enormous impact on our health and wellbeing.
Planning policy is about 'place making' and therefore has a key role in the creation of healthy, safe and inclusive communities as well as providing opportunities for people to lead active lifestyles. Conversely, health and wellbeing touches upon many planning considerations such as the provision of housing to meet local needs, the ability to cycle and walk to places, the design of our public spaces for social interaction and the provision of social and cultural facilities to name but a few.
Worthing Borough Council is preparing a new Local Plan for Worthing and for the first time we are proposing a specific policy on 'Healthy Communities'. This has been prepared with support from the Communities and Wellbeing team at the Councils.
This policy has been written at a high level in recognition of the fact that that there is a holistic approach to the creation of healthy communities and draws out key policy areas within the Local Plan (i.e. transport, open space & recreation, public realm design, housing, pollution etc) that can assist with addressing health inequalities and creating healthy lifestyles.
For instance, the policies will require new development proposals to incorporate key principles within their masterplans that are considered essential in the creation of healthy and vibrant places. New developments will be encouraged to provide high quality homes within an attractive environment, provide opportunities for social connections through inclusive development layout and public realm design, the provision of safe active travel routes such as walking and cycling within developments and the wider area to name but a few.
It's fascinating to see how public health has come full circle and that it is now firmly part of local government. Planning Policy along with other support services can help to coordinate healthy living within the environment we live and work in.
Photo: Family cycling on Worthing seafront (copyright Discover Worthing)
My previous blogs have talked about Local Plans in relation to land use development. Today, I thought I would talk about Marine Planning which involves thinking about a planning system for our marine environments - our coast, estuaries and tidal waters.
Formal Marine Planning is relatively new, and it is a major achievement that we are one of the first countries in the world to implement a Marine Plan system for our territorial waters.
This has come about in response to increasing activity in the maritime industries (such as shipping, freight handling, fishing etc), the emergence of new industries (renewable energy technologies etc.) alongside the need to conserve and protect marine species and habitats in a sustainable way.
Whilst Councils are responsible for preparing Local Plans, the responsibility for creating Marine Plans lies with the Marine Management Organisation (MMO), a public body sponsored by Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs. The MMO acts as a planning, licensing and consent body for certain types of developments such as marine construction, and takes into account that may have an environmental, economic or social impact.
There are 11 English Marine Plan areas including inshore and offshore areas, and the coastline of Adur and Worthing falls within the South marine area which covers inshore and offshore waters across 1,000 kilometres of coastline from Folkestone, in Kent, to the river Dart in Devon.
The English Channel is one of the busiest shipping channels in the world with a rich and diverse coastline with over 60 marine protected areas, iconic landscapes including nine marine conservation zones and the Jurassic Coast UNESCO world heritage site, making this stretch of coastline one of the most complex and challenging coastal areas in England.
The South Marine Plan was the second marine plan to be adopted in England and provides the statutory framework to shape and inform decisions over how the areas' waters are developed, protected and improved over the next 20 years.
Adur and Worthing Councils have a role to play in that we are responsible for ensuring that the South Marine Plan integrates with our Local Plans and that the Plans must be compatible with each other. Activities taking place on land and in the sea can have impacts on both terrestrial and marine environments. Two examples offshore are Rampion Windfarm and developments at Shoreham Port Harbour.
If you would like to found out more about Marine Planning, there is a short YouTube video animation produced by the Marine Management Organisation available to watch (about 2/3's the way down the page) at:
Photo: Work on the Rampion windfarm
I recently attended the launch event of 'Worthing Refill' - an exciting new environmental scheme which aims to encourage residents and visitors to refill their existing bottles at publicly-available water stations around the town. The idea is to cut-back on the buying of single-use plastic bottles.
The event featured inspiring presentations from renowned environmental experts which made me realise that plastic bottles have a significant impact on the environment at all stages of its life-cycle.
Manufacturing plastic bottles requires energy; they then need to be transported to supermarkets and shops contributing to greenhouse gas emissions. At the end of their plastic use life, they need to be disposed of, and that has led to increasing plastic litter being deposited in our marine and land environments.
This made me think about the bigger picture of how planning policy can be at the forefront of future proofing our environmental resources and making our societies resilient to the effects of climate change.
Whilst I wish that planners had superpowers and could stop climate change in its tracks, planners can make a difference by devising policy mechanisms to be used to mitigate climate change. This includes the promotion of sustainable design and construction techniques that help to facilitate energy efficiency and promote the efficient sustainable use of natural resources.
Did you know that the Councils have a responsibility to help to secure progress on meeting the UK's emissions reduction targets? Through the 2008 Climate Change Act, the UK is committed to a target to reduce carbon emissions by 80% below 1990 levels by 2050 - with interim targets of 37% by 2020, 51% by 2025 and 57% by 2030.
Energy consumption within buildings is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. The need to achieve higher levels of energy efficiency and locally produced clean, low carbon and renewable energy as part of new development is an important aspect of sustainable construction.
Ensuring that new buildings have low energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions will have benefits for the future residents and business occupants, through reduced energy bills.
Adur District Council requires new planning applications for ten or more dwellings or new floorspace of 1,000sqm or more to demonstrate how they intend to use low carbon energy, renewable energy and residual heat / cooling. It is the intention that new major developments use low carbon energy through renewable energy technologies and sustainable design and construction.
Water is a finite resource and ensuring that robust water supply and wastewater systems are in place is essential to the well-being of residents and businesses. Both Adur and Worthing are located within a 'serious' water stressed' area which means that demand for water exceeds the amount available. In response to this significant challenge, Adur District Council included a policy within the Adur Local Plan (2017) which requires all new residential homes and commercial development to achieve a water efficiency standard so that water is being used efficiently.
During the last consultation on the draft Worthing Local Plan, a number of responses reflected the hope that Worthing could become a 'leader' in sustainable development with a strong environmental focus. It was considered that the Local Plan should provide a greater emphasis on helping to minimise rising carbon dioxide emissions and mitigate climate change.
The Planning Policy team is excited to be incorporating important measures within the Worthing Local Plan to mitigate climate change through the planning system and when the Local Plan is published for public consultation later this year local residents will be able to view and comment on these policy measures.
Photo: Solar panels on the roof of Portland House, one of our council offices
Hello again ... in the recent hot weather spell we had, I became used to seeking shelter from high temperatures by keeping in the shade. On my daily walk to and from the office, I walked through one of the parks in Worthing and it really made me appreciate the multiple benefits that parks and open spaces offer.
It also reminded me that - as a Policy Planner - I have an important role, not only to protect and enhance these open green spaces, but also to support their important role in helping our environment adapt to the impacts of climate change.
Parks are popular places and, when they are well used, help create a sense of community and reduce isolation.
Photo: Victoria Park, Worthing
The park that I walk through has an outdoor gym with fitness equipment that, in an attractive and motivating environment, encourages people to undertake physical activity for free. It is quite obvious that spending time in our parks is good for our physical and mental health, as well as helping children learn and develop through play. And it is not just humans that reap the benefits; parks are home to wildlife too helping establish biodiverse habitats.
However, there are so many more benefits associated with our green spaces. Trees provide essential shade during heatwaves and help to lower temperatures especially in built up areas. Trees and other vegetation can also decrease levels of air pollutants and reduce carbon dioxide which is a major contributor to climate change.
We are also seeing a new wave of creative urban design thinking for place making, such as providing public spaces and areas for planting and food growing.
In the planning world, we have some buzz words like 'Green Infrastructure' and 'Urban Greening'. Green Infrastructure (GI) means a network of multi-functional green space, such as parks, green spaces, gardens, woodlands, rivers and urban greening features. This can be both urban and rural and delivers a wide range of environmental and quality of life benefits.
Urban Greening refers to the greening of our streets, roofs and outside walls of buildings and other public spaces. I would recommend Googling these terms to view some interesting, innovative and rather futuristic examples!
With my colleagues I am looking at ways of promoting new forms of green infrastructure in Adur and Worthing through our planning policies. This might be done by requiring new developments to incorporate elements of GI into the overall design. For instance, the regeneration of Shoreham Harbour seeks to deliver an improved GI network including the following:
A green corridor parallel to A259 connecting sites alongside the road, including embankments and grassed amenity space.
A coastal vegetation shingle habitat along Portslade and Southwick Beaches
The provision of GI as part of the regeneration of Shoreham Harbour will help to promote sustainable development and will be in line with meeting the management objectives of the Biosphere Reserve. What's that you ask?
In 2014, UNESCO designated the Brighton and Lewes Downs, which partly falls within Adur district, a Biosphere Reserve. This means it's a 'site of excellence'. It seeks to strike a balance between conservation and development, between nature and people, and to explore and demonstrate innovative approaches to sustainable development. This is all part of my job and a part I really love.
Photo: A good example of urban greening and infrastructure in a built up environment - Slessor Gardens, Dundee
Photo: A good and innovative example of urban greening on the side of a building - Marks and Spencer in Newcastle
First of all, can I say that I am really excited that I am the latest staff blogger to join 'Our Stories, Your Councils! I'm a keen follower of the blogs; I'm quite a nosey person and get great enjoyment in keeping up-to-date with what's goes on. Plus, reading the blogs is a really good way to learn more about the work of my colleagues, some of which goes on very much behind the scenes and deserves great respect.
Over the next few months, I am going to be blogging about what goes on in the diverse world of Planning Policy, and also introduce you to the team that I work with.
So ... what is Planning Policy? I sometimes find that when I am at social events and making small talk with people, the question of what I do for a living comes up in conversation. Before long I am deep in conversation about planning, but discussion which also encompass ideas about the society and environment we live in and how we go about our everyday lives.
The planning system has three functions, the most well-known is the planning application process (i.e. getting planning permission to build a new development). Then there is the enforcement side of planning. That means investigating breaches of planning, for example building a development without planning permission. And the third aspect involves planning policy which develops policies and principles to guide the size, form and location of any development project, big or small.
You may have heard of the recently adopted Adur Local Plan, the evolving Worthing Local Plan or the Shoreham Harbour Joint Area Action Plan. These documents are in essence, the 'Planning Bible' which comprise the policies and site allocations for future development in those areas, and once adopted, will be used by colleagues to determine planning applications.
As part of formulating policies, we have to do a bit of time travelling (in some respects, Planning Policy is referred to as 'Forward Planning') and predict and consider possible future challenges and devise policies to best respond to these, such as population growth, climate change and growth in digital technology.
The planning landscape is changing all the time; just think back to how much has happened globally in the last 30 years: the rise of technology and medical advancements which mean people are living longer and commuting longer distances, or the decline of traditional industries and the introduction of new economic industries - all these aspects are changing how we live and work, commute, shop, undertake leisure etc.
These changing patterns often result in various cause and effects variables and we have to balance these. For instance, technological advancements have made it easier for people to do online shopping, but it is also changing the nature of the high street. We are also seeing a rise in a revitalised phenomenon, for example farmers' markets, in the growing recognition of sustainability and reducing food miles. Also, planners ask big questions about what we need to protect and safeguard where possible, such as our historic buildings and our biodiversity.
Please follow me next time where I shall be blogging about how open spaces and vegetation are being used in a innovative way in Adur and Worthing to reduce the impacts of air quality, improve quality and appearance of the areas and help to contribute to people's health and wellbeing. Till next time ...
Photo: Jennifer working on the Local Plan maps
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