Blog: 13 May 2016Chair’s Chatter: Delivery in the North East

Moving on from the last Chair’s Chatter where we discussed the Northern Powerhouse, in this issue I would like to talk about Delivery.  As a child, I loved the Goonies, mainly because I thought I might have been one of them and looked too much like Chunk than I care to admit.  However, they had a goal they needed to achieve – to save Astoria – and they showed remarkable teamwork in making that dream a reality. They battled adversity, fractured at times, but came together to win when the day was out.

This is what’s needed throughout the north east: teamwork. We have seen some remarkable progression in recent years with the likes of the adoption of the Newcastle Gateshead Core Strategy and Urban Core Plan and, as such, we are moving on to a period of realisation, of delivery. We have sites identified for development, for housing or otherwise and if for nothing more than the delivery of the plan, we need to see these realised.

In order to achieve this ourselves, as planners, designers and architects, we need to see each other not as adversaries but as colleagues, working towards the same end goal that will ultimately result in an outcome that is beneficial to all.

This is often forgotten in the complexities of the planning system, that the end development has a significant potential benefit, whether to just the end user or to a wider audience.  It could be of public benefit or indeed public appreciation.  It could increase social interaction or economic activity.

Whilst the benefits are felt post-construction, they must be sewn into the development psyche so that the message of delivery and purpose is not lost. I’d love to see a renewed vigour as to the delivery of stalled or stalling projects throughout the north east, a renewed sense of purpose following major milestones such as the CSUSCP adoption, to see the physical changes occur in and around our Great North East.

Now, the irony that the Goonies were fighting to save Astoria from development is not lost on me and I am a firm proponent of saving our beautiful spaces, of which there is none more evident a setting than the north east. However, this ‘chatter’ is not about finding development or opening the debate as to where development should be located, nor is it about placating Troy and his dad as the stereotype nasty developer, but more pertinently on delivering on those schemes that have already been identified or even approved already.

It seems to be that discharge of conditions of planning approvals are a job in themselves, both for local authority planners and private developers alike. This process needs to be speeded up and the deliberation transparent, so that the discharge is done in good faith and in the context of the planning approval itself. It would be interesting to know what people think are the main bottlenecks here and how we can resolve them.

Ultimately, I think there’s a lot that we can learn from the Goonies and if we can work together and unlock those developments we all realise are unnecessarily stalling, we can then all share in the bounty that will follow.

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