Neither big nor clever

Your Local Development Scheme. A pain? A millstone? An enigma wrapped inside a tissue of lies? It doesn’t have to be any of those things. All you have to do is get a page on your website which puts the formal stages up and, usefully, any forthcoming consultations. Then, set out when you’re planning to meet them and….that’s it. Yes, really!

If you have to change it, just alter it and show how it has changed. You could even try seasons for things in later stages.

So why is it that so many authorities keep republishing 10, 20 or 30 plus pages? They lovingly describe the heartbreaking lack of progress to date, the endless consult-a-go-rounds that have happened since 2010. They highlight that wonderful period from 2011 to 2015 when you were ‘going through the representations’ before returning to a ‘further additional extra this time I know it’s for real’ preferred options (with time allowed for further modifications). There are pages and pages about documents already adopted and usually lots of legal gumph about prescribed periods and out of date regulation numbers.

So, that’s the LDS. Make it a ‘one-page web-page next-bus-style announcement using seasons not months’.

But how do you know you’re getting close to getting that assessment of time right? What lies beneath? How will you make sure you meet those milestones so that when DCLG come calling you can tell them….that everything is on track, thank you for the interest.

At PAS, we have been looking at the main reasons where slippage has occurred. Whilst there is a chance that in some cases, it would have been almost impossible to avoid, it is almost always possible to see it coming.

So, to give you every chance of planning ahead, setting and agreeing a timetable that can withstand the forces of evil that seek to derail, we have come up with….a sort of a table and a chart and some words.

It isn’t big, just like your LDS shouldn’t be, and it isn’t particularly clever, just like the person who wrote it. It’s just something for you to be able to refer to, to take a breath and just scan the horizon. Take stock of what you have, assess what you need, and understand who to involve and when.

It’s available to all our subscribers, and open for comments from you to suggest improvements. Many thanks to the people who helped us to make it by contributing their thoughts and coming along to the event.


How long does it take to make a local plan ?

One message we have been banging on about for the last couple of years is “get on and make a plan”. The NPPF and transitional arrangements are only the latest reason to mean this message is true.

We are putting the greatest share of our resources into helping councils get a plan in place. But which councils needs the help most ? People at the final stages are all taking advantage of PINS excellent front-loading visits, but what about people further back in the queue ? Many councils are completely competent, and we should focus our attention on those that are struggling and need some outside assistance.

Spotting strugglers should be reasonably easy. There is a published timetable for making a plan. It’s called the Local Development Scheme (LDS). One probable indication of a project in trouble is missing the milestones as set out in the LDS.

But very few, if any, Councils hit their original timetable as expressed in the LDS. In hindsight, they all suffered from optimism bias, and failed to reflect the vicissitudes of life in a changeable, resource constrained environment. We’ve all seen ‘Grand Designs’ (home of the “we’ll be in by xmas” line), and we understand how human these sorts of failure are. But we need 330-odd local plans and each one is itself a similar investment to a Grand Designs project. We in local government can get better at this.

The Planning Fallacy (or why the LDS is often just lies)

What’s happening has been called (by coincidence) the planning fallacy Continue reading