What is your team responsible for?
Capita’s planning policy team in North Tyneside develop the policies and guidelines that shape planning decisions for North Tyneside Council. The team also provides planning consultancy support for clients including other local authorities.
Roughly how many people are in the planning policy team?
There are currently eight of us in the planning policy team - Martin, Steve, Laura, Claire, Pete, Caroline, Gary and Rob.
Describe a typical day in for the planning policy team
One of the great things about working in the planning policy team is that a typical day barely exists. Our work can be very varied depending upon the particular priorities we are focused on at the time and the documents we are producing.
Working with North Tyneside Council our activities are highly focused towards delivering new planning policy and guidance. This can involve spending time liaising with the Client team at North Tyneside and engaging with senior councillors on direction and strategy; undertaking research and developing evidence to inform and justify our policies and proposals. When we are preparing documents we also find ourselves spending significant amounts of time engaging with residents, business and town centre forums and working with the development industry.
Our broad activities on a recent Friday were:
- Development of briefings for senior officers and members to explain the latest position regarding development of a charge on development to help fund such as new secondary school spaces, health facilities and pedestrian and cycle paths.
- Providing advice and assistance to colleagues within the council and our neighbours in Newcastle and Northumberland as part of the North of Tyne devolution discussions.
- Liaising with housebuilders to secure contributions secured through Section 106 and working with the Council and partners such as the Clinical Commissioner Group and Nexus (the Tyne and Wear Passenger Transport Executive).
- Maintaining our housing monitoring data – ensuring the Council remains on track to meet its challenging housing requirements, maintenance of North Tyneside Council’s Brownfield Land Register and Self Build and Custom Housebuild Register.
- Providing specialist advice on development proposals, particularly to ensure high quality design, protection and enhancement of heritage assets, employment land supply, town centres, and housing delivery.
- Maintaining the authority’s Property and Land Use Gazetteer and undertaking a wide range of GIS-enabled mapping activities. An objective is to migrate significant volumes of planning policy, constraints and data to online mapping - improving the planning service for residents and applicants.
- Away from the core work undertaken for North Tyneside Council, the team have also been involved in providing planning consultancy services for Cumbria County Council and are currently providing planning advice to developers looking to prepare Masterplans and submit planning applications for major housing developments.
What is the proudest moment for your team?
The main purpose and typical daily focus of a Local Authority planning policy team is the preparation of the development plan for the area, such as a Local Plan or Core Strategy. However, reaching a conclusion and adopting a Local Plan is a far rarer event. The volume of evidence required to bring forward a Plan that must allocate land for development, inevitably leads to objections and political challenges. This mean the process of adopting a Local Plan making can be very lengthy. Reflecting on this, only two Plans had been adopted in North Tyneside between the late 1980s and 2016.
However, the Capita North Tyneside Partnership developed new commitment in 2012/13 to ensure progression of the North Tyneside Local Plan. Securing its adoption was a key priority.
Partnership working was certainly at the heart of the Local Plan’s preparation. A strong relationship existed between the local authority and Capita with direct policy input from the responsible Cabinet Members
The role taken by the planning policy team to support the Council in taking difficult decisions when required enabled led to a truly evidence-based plan that reflected the Council’s objectives and priorities and met the requirements of national policy and guidance.
Consequently, the planning policy team and Council were proud when in June 2016 the new North Tyneside Local Plan was submitted to the Government for consideration in July 2017 when the Local Plan was adopted.
Tell us something that people may not know about the team
The core documents submitted by the planning policy Team for consideration as part of the Local Plan examination extended to over 500 separate documents and more than 40,000 pages - the planning inspector promises he read them all!