Stimulating investment planning and strategic housing
Planning and employment
Planning departments have the opportunity to promote employment opportunities through local labour clauses. These can have a positive impact on equality where there is a concentration of unemployed people from an equalities group in the local community.
For example, the Neighbourhood Management and Planning Departments at the London Borough of Lewisham were aware that local residents and BME people were under-represented on local building sites. They worked in partnership with Job Centre Plus and Mansell builders to provide training and work opportunities for local people. This has resulted in greater community ownership of building projects. Mansell has reported that crime on building sites has dropped as local people are now more likely to watch out for and report theft.
Planning departments can work with developers and applicants at an early stage to influence their approach to equality and bring about real employment and training benefits for local communities. Whilst there may not be a statutory obligation for developers and applicants to provide local employment, planners can share information on local demographics and equality issues to ensure these are taken into account at all stages of the application process.
The Planning and Economic Regeneration Departments at Bradford Metropolitan District Council have worked together to support and influence equality issues within an application for planning made on behalf of a large retailer to develop a large distribution warehouse in a deprived area.
The council worked closely with the developers and retailer at pre-application meetings to ensure that they were aware of the high levels of unemployment in that particular area and that there were some groups less likely to be employed in the city as a whole. Through the development of the site plans, they secured commitment that activities would target local people for the 2500 jobs which will be created when the site goes ahead.
The council required the company to undertake research into the potential for manufacturing jobs in the development, which will include recreational and medical facilities as well as a training unit, bringing wider benefits for employees. Although the development has not yet started the council are pleased that there was a positive response to their requests to consider local employment issues as this fits well with the council's aim of encouraging more manufacturing jobs in the area.
An awareness of changing demographics and appropriate support to meet new needs are also important for planners. Building control at St Edmundsbury Borough Council has responded to the challenge of communicating with an increasing number of migrant workers on local building sites. Unable to access formal interpreters at short notice, building controllers now communicate through the use of drawings, particularly technical drawings.
The following case study on Birmingham, for example, shows how a council can support business development and innovation.
The government's recent Sub National Review of economic development and regeneration sets out a dynamic and changing regional landscape that has important implications for the relationships between Regional Development Agencies, local authorities, housing providers and local communities. It provides an opportunity to build on good relationships in the regions to date, and to strengthen structures that can build a more fully integrated approach to planning strategically, for housing, regeneration and economic growth in local areas and regions. EMDA, Local Government and Improvement (formerly the IDeA) and CIH have collaborated on the following paper, which aims to provide a step in achieving that better integration.
2 May 2012