Headlines: April 27th, 2004

Local councils are being asked for their views on the new Planning Advisory Service, due to be in operation from the autumn after being launched by English Partnerships and the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. The aim of the service, to be run by the IdeA, is to provide support and advice for English local authorities. It will work in partnership with other agencies and support the government’s sustainable communities plan.As a pilot of the main advisory service, English Partnerships, the national regeneration agency, has been asked to set up an advisory panel on large applications. That panel will give direct support to authorities to deliver important objectives, such as large-scale housing developments or regeneration projects.

Over the coming months a multi-disciplinary team will be set up to run the pilot. It will provide advice to authorities, with their agreement, on handling large sites, including overall project management in the early stages of a scheme and more detailed advice at later stages. That could cover preparation of transport assessments or environmental impact assessments. The advisory panel will start work in the summer and will take on the Planning Advisory Service branding in the autumn when the whole project comes into operation.

The government believes the IDeA’s experience of working with local government and delivering peer support and improvement programmes will be vital in setting up the PAS. They will establish the PAS team, working with the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and key stakeholders to develop services. The first step will be market research to find out what support local authorities really want.

IdeA chairman, Colin Barrow, said planning was a key service of local government and was becoming increasingly important to the local government improvement agenda and he urged councils to respond to the call for their input into establishing the Advisory Service.

Authorities who have feedback on how the PAS could help them have been asked to contact Kamal Panchal, kamal.panchal@idea.gov.uk