South Essex Councils set out vision for region’s growth

7th June 2018

Councils across South Essex have agreed a common approach to supporting the development of housing and key infrastructure over the next twenty years.

The Association of South Essex Local Authorities (ASELA) – which is made up of Basildon, Brentwood, Castle Point, Essex County, Rochford, Southend-on-Sea, and Thurrock Councils - has drafted a ‘Statement of Common Ground (SCG)’. This sets out the next steps and is an important part in focusing economic growth across the region.

This, along with preparing a Joint Strategic Plan for South Essex would assist future plans for development to ensure new transport links, health and social infrastructure, business and skill opportunities are all included and will ensure that the 90,000 homes that have been identified as being need across south Essex over the next twenty years are built.

Cllr Louise McKinlay, Leader of Brentwood Borough Council and Chair of ASELA, says: “We are working collectively and across our district borders for our vision for South Essex’s future.

“This is not just about providing more housing, it’s about much more than that. It’s looking at developing new and improved transport links and roads, new health, medical and care facilities, schools and creating business and skill opportunities across South Essex to support a growing economy. All of this needs to be part of the proposals very early on.

“Our aim is to get the best for our residents over the next 20 years and ensure they can take advantage of the exciting opportunities and new jobs that we can expect in the future.

“We are committed to working together to take a coordinated and joined up approach and will make a very clear case to Government to provide funding for the major infrastructure that South Essex will need in order to grow.”

The Government is looking to local authorities to prepare Statements of Common Ground as part of a new Local Plan process, and more specifically, to provide the main evidence to demonstrate that strategic planning matters have been dealt with effectively and the legal provisions of the ‘Duty to Cooperate’ have been met.  ASELA have been a national pilot for the new process and are the first collective of local authorities to reach this stage of the new process.

Between the six local authority areas, 4,500 homes need to be built each year over the next 20 years (90,000) to meet Government housing targets.

The Statement of Common Ground looks at the next steps – including how the joint strategic plan will be put together. After this, the South Essex Spatial Strategy will be published; this will identify areas for growth, infrastructure and housing. It will go out to public engagement in 2019 and is designed to help deliver future growth and local plans.

All seven councils in ASELA have recognised the need to work across borders on strategic issues such as infrastructure, planning and growth, skills, housing and transport connectivity.

In Autumn 2017, the councils engaged an Associate from the East of England LGA’s “Talent Bank”, David Sturgess of Blue Marble Partners, to assist them in developing this improved approach to strategic collaboration. Using a focused series of meetings and workshops with the Leaders and Chief Executives over a short and concentrated period of time, a “place-based” vision was agreed across all councils to articulate the future ambition, priorities and desired outcomes.

This then helped the councils to develop the new ASELA model, confirmed through a Memorandum of Understanding signed and adopted by all 7 members on 10th January 2018.

For more information about this programme, please contact our Managing Director, Cecilia Tredget (01284 758305, cecilia.tredget@eelga.gov.uk) or our Senior Manager, Eddie Gibson (01284 758310, eddie.gibson@eelga.gov.uk

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