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SESplan 2 rejected by Scottish Ministers

SESplan 2 rejected by Scottish Ministers

Arabella Stewart-Leslie 16 May 2019
On 16 May 2019 the South East Scotland Strategic Development Plan (SESplan 2) was rejected by Scottish Ministers on the basis that strategic transport infrastructure issues were not properly considered. This reflects badly on strategic planning for South East Scotland. The currently approved iteration of SESplan was approved in 2013.  At the time of its examination it attracted significant criticism from Scottish Government Reporters in terms of meeting its housing land supply requirements. However, the plan was not rejected by Ministers on the basis that the issues surrounding housing requirements could be addressed by the preparation and adoption of supplementary guidance and approval was allowed. Today’s Ministers’ decision on SESplan 2 is due to their finding that the plan has not be adequately informed by a full Transport Appraisal addressing strategic transport infrastructure issues, including cross-boundary requirements. This calls into question the plan’s spatial strategy.  The ministers have highlighted that concerns in relation to these matters were repeatedly raised during preparation of SESplan 2 but have not been addressed. Unlike with the previous SESplan, Scottish ministers have determined that the use of supplementary guidance is not a suitable means of addressing the issue. As the spatial strategy should be informed by a full Transport Appraisal, preparation of supplementary guidance on the issue would not allow for amendment of the spatial strategy if required, potentially rendering the strategy undeliverable. Ministers have now requested the Strategic Development Planning Authority think again and prepare a new SESplan 2 properly informed by the required Transport Appraisal. The rejection of the plan at this time will be a hindrance to local authorities in the area who have awaited approval of SESplan 2 before progressing their own Local Development Plans. This will likely result in development plans across the city region becoming out of date.

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Are mixed tenure policies achieving their objectives?

Are mixed tenure policies achieving their objectives?

Arabella Stewart-Leslie 29 Nov 2018
Tenure mixing, and mixed income communities have become an essential component underpinning residential development in Scotland. Policies aimed at achieving tenure diversification have been introduced in response to ongoing issues of geographically concentrated poverty, social exclusion and a lack of affordable housing. Tenure diversification within new developments seeks to address these problems through the aspiration that high income earners in an area will provide support to less well-off members of society, thereby allowing social mixing, reducing concentrated poverty, and minimising prejudiced views. Evidence that has informed this thinking has been widespread from research completed by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF)[1], The Scottish Government,[2] and GoWell[3]. The belief that mixed tenure developments will address social issues comes mainly from the acknowledgment that in areas in which majority of the housing tenure is socially rented there are higher levels of violent crime, lower educational attainment and poorer health. Shown below are the general proposed benefits of mixed communities found throughout my research: Concentrated areas of urban disadvantage lead to residents being disadvantaged, therefore suggesting that mixed communities decrease the likelihood of residents being stigmatised by the place that they live. Across the UK, the promotion of tenure diversification has been undertaken largely through planning policy, which has been implemented at both national and local level. Within Scotland this aim is promoted through Scottish Planning Policy (SPP). To achieve these goals the SPP makes several provisions. Firstly, to achieve affordable housing but also promoting mixed tenure communities, Section 75 agreements are implemented. Like Section 106 agreements in England, these agreements work as a method of securing developer’s contributions through the planning system. In 2008 the Scottish Government published a revision to ‘Scottish Planning Policy SPP3: Planning for Homes’[1], which sets a benchmark of 25% affordable units for any development of more than 12 units The SPP also sets out broad objectives to achieving mixed tenure stating that “development plans should encourage the creation of mixed communities rather than single-tenure developments. As far as possible, tenure of housing should be indiscernible from its design, quality or appearance.”[2] But have these policies influenced how people and places relate to each other and are residents mixing? Firstly, the policies and objectives set out in the SPP aren’t particularly strong e.g. ‘opportunity for the creation of mixed communities will not necessarily be applicable to every site’[3] meaning limited weight may be attached to ensuring these policies are actively achieving their objectives.  Also without clear cut policies it makes it difficult to review their success. Additionally, evidence on the success of mixed tenure communities in creating social mixing is difficult to ascertain and is often mixed and variable, differing between studies. These difficulties are acknowledged by key advocates JRF. Research highlights from the works such as GoWell and others such as Bond et al[4] and Sautkina et al[5] show that that social mixing within these communities is predominantly at a superficial level and social integration is, in most cases, down to individual preferences and not as a product of their environment. Social mixing is much more successful between school children due to the fact they do not hold preconceived ideas of social mixing. Furthermore, wider geographical stigmatisation is often reproduced on a smaller scale within these developments. This can lead to blocks or areas of development being stigmatized due to the type of tenure within them. This is often related to home-owners’ expectations about whether or not landlords are likely to address antisocial behaviour by, or perceived to be caused by, social housing tenants. A common result of regeneration and mixed tenure policies is the loss of social networks which can be vital to people’s livelihoods. As affordable units can come forward through any new development this can lead to existing social networks being spread all over a city. Some mixed tenure schemes are significantly more successful than others and this often directly relates to the quality of design (ensuring a strong tenure blind approach) and the range of tenure types and sizes of properties available. A good example of this in the Pennywell urban regeneration project in Edinburgh which has a mix of detached, semi-detached and low-rise flats for private sale, social rent and mid-market rent. [1] Scottish Government, ‘Planning for Homes’ Revised 2009, Paragraph 94[2] Scottish Government, ‘Planning for Homes’ Revised 2009, Paragraph 80[3] Scottish Government, ‘Planning for Homes’ Revised 2009, Paragraph 81[4] Bond et all, ‘Mixed Messages about Mixed Tenure: Do Reviews Tell the Real Story?’ 2012[5] Sautkina et al ‘Mixed evidence on mixed tenue effects: findings from a systematic review of UK Studies (1995-2009) 2012[1] Joseph Rowntree Foundation, ‘Developing and sustaining mixed tenure housing developments’ 2008[2] Scottish Government ‘ Mixed Communities – Literature Review 2011[3] GoWell, Website: Key findings 2015  

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