Sustainability Appraisal - Plan making support

Sustainability Appraisal (SA) is more than just a tick-box exercise it should be an integral part of Local Plan preparation. SA provides the evidence to inform, and the framework to test and develop, options ultimately helping to deliver a more sustainable strategy. What's more, SA is a legal requirement and will be vital to demonstrating to the Inspector that your plan is "justified" at Examination in Public. We can offer support to give local authorities the skills and confidence to carry out an SA of your Local Plan in-house or review work SA work that you have undertaken.

Sustainability Appraisal module briefing note

You may be unsure of the SA process or its importance to Local Plan development, had some difficult experiences in the past or think that you don't have the skills or expertise to undertake SA in-house. You may be at the start of the SA process or be about to embark on the SA of Local Plan options and require advice. PAS can help you and is offering SA support to local planning authorities in preparing for, and undertaking, SA of their Local Plans.

Who is the support for, what is its purpose and what are the benefits to me?

The SA support package is designed for anyone likely to be directly involved in SA whether planning policy officers or other colleagues who may provide input to the process (for example, in relation to equalities or health). The module has been designed to be delivered to a minimum of three and a maximum of six people. It is intended to give you and your colleagues the skills and confidence to carry out SA of your Local Plan in-house thereby helping to fully integrate the process with the wider plan making function and potentially saving costs associated with outsourcing this work. Following the workshop activities and discussions the presentation provided will be a useful source of hints and tips as you progress with your SA.

What does the support look like?

We offer two modules depending on where you are in the Local Plan and SA process, each comprising two half-day sessions:

• Module 1: An Introduction to SA and scoping. In the first session you will gain an understanding of the SA process, what makes a good SA and the key challenges that you may encounter along the way. We will also look at how you intend to manage your SA process and the time/resources you're likely to need. The second session takes a more detailed look at the scoping stage, considering the key elements of your Scoping Report and providing practical, hands-on advice to help you develop your SA Framework.

• Module 2: Options Appraisal – Session 1 introduces the options appraisal process and asks you to consider the range and type of options that will be subject to SA and your approach to the appraisal process. Session 2 is a hands-on appraisal workshop based on your emerging plan options (if available) to demonstrate how the appraisal process works in practice.

Do I need to do anything in advance?

Some preparation in advance of the support would help ensure that you gain maximum benefit. In particular, you may want to:

  • Internally review any existing SA documentation and discuss your experiences with colleagues, identifying any particular concerns or issues you have and that you would like addressed during the support;
  • Consider how you intend to resource and manage the SA process; and
  • Gather available information to support the workshop exercises. This may include constraint maps, evidence base documents and other local plans or programmes.