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Swindon and Wiltshire Joint Spatial Framework

What is the Joint Spatial Framework?

The Joint Spatial Framework will be prepared by Wiltshire Council and Swindon Borough Council and is included within the respective programmes of work for each council's local plan review.

It will set out in broad terms the amount and spatial distribution of new jobs, homes and infrastructure in the period 2016 to 2036. It will become evidence to inform each individual local plan review enabling the preparation of separate but aligned local plans. Moving forward each Local Plan review will take its lead from the broader strategy included within the Joint Spatial Framework.

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Local planning authorities are legally required to co-operate with each other over issues that cross administrative boundaries. 

Wiltshire Council and Swindon Borough Council are working together on an ongoing basis and in 2017 produced the Swindon and Wiltshire Joint Spatial Framework: Issues Paper.  The intention was for the Joint Spatial Framework to guide the overall pattern of development across the wider area of the two councils, setting out a distribution of new jobs, homes and infrastructure to inform the councils’ individual local plan reviews.

Following this, the revised NPPF was published, within which there is a raised profile for Statements of Common Ground. The revised NPPF now requires local authorities to “maintain one or more statements of common ground, documenting the cross-boundary matters being addressed and progress in cooperating to address these” (paragraph 27). The PPG outlines what a statement of common ground should contain and explains that it should be “maintained on an on-going basis throughout the plan making process”.

A statement of common ground can identify matters that are agreed, yet to be agreed or further information that is required before matters can be agreed. It should identify those areas where cooperation is required to deliver the strategic policies of both authorities. To this extent it will cover many of the elements previously intended to be included within the Swindon and Wiltshire Joint Spatial Framework.

A Statement of Common Ground should, therefore, be prepared between Wiltshire and Swindon to confirm the extent of joint working between the two authorities, including whether:

  • the proposed housing requirements for Swindon Borough Council and Wiltshire Council can be accommodated within each authority’s boundaries and if not the extent of the shortfall in provision;
  • the proposed employment land requirement identified in the Swindon and Wiltshire FEMAA can be accommodated within each authority’s boundaries and if not the extent of the shortfall in provision; and
  • there are other cross boundary strategic issues that should be addressed through joint working including infrastructure provision to support growth.

The Statement of Common Ground should be subject to ongoing review. The scope of the Joint Spatial Framework will be determined by the Statement of Common Ground. It may be reduced in scope compared to that previously proposed, for example, it may only focus on employment land and infrastructure delivery.

On the dates specified, Swindon Borough Council Cabinet (20 March) and Wiltshire Council Cabinet (26 March) met to consider, in part, each revised Local Development Scheme. At each meeting endorsement was received for the preparation of a Statement of Common Ground between Swindon Borough Council and Wiltshire Council to inform the matters to be addressed in a Joint Spatial Framework.

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Consultation on the Swindon and Wiltshire Joint Spatial Framework

Wiltshire Council and Swindon Borough Council published the Swindon and Wiltshire Joint Spatial Framework: Issues Paper and supporting evidence papers for each Housing Market Area for consultation between 7 November and 19 December 2017. The documents are available to download below.

Comments were invited on these documents and supporting evidence during the six week consultation period, which ran from 9:00am on Tuesday 7 November 2017 until 5:00pm on Tuesday 19 December 2017.

Joint Evidence

In addition to working together on the Swindon and Wiltshire Joint Spatial Framework the two councils will work together to develop the evidence base which supports it.

Assessments of need for homes and jobs (2016 to 2036)

Swindon Borough and Wiltshire Councils commissioned two independent studies to inform the review of their local plans including the preparation of a non-statutory Joint Spatial Framework to enable each plan period to be extended to 2036. These are:

  • A Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA); and
  • A Functional Economic Market Area Assessment (FEMAA).
     

Consistent with one of the planning principles of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF):

“Every effort should be made objectively to identify and then meet the housing, business and other development needs of an area, and respond positively to wider opportunities for growth.” (Paragraph 17)

The Strategic Housing Market Assessment and Functional Economic Market Area Assessment provide independent projections for new homes and jobs looking ahead to 2036 and are an important part of the evidence base for the review of housing and employment needs of the area. They have been made available to inform the review of the planning policies and proposals of each authority’s local plans.  The preparation of each plan will work towards strategies which seek to meet objectively assessed development needs and plan for associated infrastructure requirements. 

The two studies do not alter the current Swindon Borough Local Plan and Wiltshire Core Strategy that cover the period to 2026.   The housing and employment requirements contained in these plans have been thoroughly tested and successfully passed through examination processes and took into account a range of considerations, such as environmental constraints.

The projections produced by the Strategic Housing Market Assessment and Functional Economic Market Area Assessment have yet to be tested and are a first step in the local plan review process.  As reiterated in the recent consultation by the government on a proposed approach to calculating local housing need:

“... local planning authorities should start the plan-making process with a clear understanding of the number of new homes they need in their area.  While this is an essential first step, it is not the only stage in the process.  Local planning authorities then need to determine whether there are any environmental designations or other physical or policy constraints which prevent them from meeting this housing need.  These include, but are not limited to, Ancient Woodland, the Green Belt, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Sites of Special Scientific Interest.  They also need to engage with other authorities – through the duty to cooperate – to determine how any need that cannot be accommodated will be redistributed over a wider area.  This means that the level of housing set out in a plan may be lower or higher than the local housing need.”

(Planning for the right homes in the right places: consultation proposals, paragraph 9)

This government consultation builds on proposals in the Housing White Paper (Fixing our broken housing market), which proposed a standard approach to assessing local housing need and is now consulting on a proposed approach. The outcome to the consultation and changes to government policy will be taken into consideration as part of the plan making process. The Strategic Housing Market Assessment and Functional Economic Market Area Assessment will be kept under review.

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Last updated: 18 June 2019 | Last reviewed: 18 June 2019