Speaking on a panel at last week’s MIPIM UK I was challenged to consider how ‘the industry might make sure existing communities benefit from the uplift that comes from future infrastructure projects, not just homeowners’.
In the broadest sense, improvements in public transport drives regeneration. The Jubilee Line extension did so much for Bermondsey and Crossrail 1 has already led to a significant step-change at Southall. However, the view amongst many remains that this type of investment still only benefits the landowner and developer and that the regeneration or redevelopment that follows, drives a different product that excludes the existing community.
Is it a question of “What did the Romans [add in scheme of choice!] do for us?”.
Putting it another way, there is a view that landowners and developers are ‘getting something for nothing’ by Government funded transport improvements.
I suppose, it depends on what you mean by value and why you want to capture it. There are many mechanisms whereby financial value can and is captured. Stamp duty and increases in Council tax receipts are non-planning related, where the increase in the value of property is captured for the public purse. CIL also provides a further route for the development to be taxed, depending on the varying CIL rates the Council has adopted or can adopt, spatially.
I would suggest the issue, in this respect, is one of is transparency and connection. How does the local community benefit from such receipts? How does the local authority communicate the expenditure of such revenue in so far as it is the recipient? Personally, I’m not a fan of CIL for large scale schemes due to the lack of transparency and accountability it offers. Notwithstanding the often-levelled criticisms against s106, it does provide a mechanism for identifying and targeting contributions or ‘benefits’ to the local area and priorities, subject of course to the statutory tests.
But even if the financial accountability is there, how or what can the community engage with, to see and understand the benefits of regeneration, redevelopment or growth? The local plan process is cumbersome and slow, and is certainly not the answer. But perhaps councils could make more use of non-statutory plans and processes to guide the development response? Can councils be more proactive in bringing forward Area Action Plans and Briefs for example, that are clear as to the scope and extent of the spatial changes? And therefore, provide a platform for developers to be certain as to the expectations of the council and community.
Transport Orientated Design (TOD) is a growing field worldwide, and in Paris and Riyadh we have seen how this approach ensures a spatial plan is generated which spans the length and breadth of any new piece of infrastructure. A plan that maximises the regenerative opportunities and delivers cohesion, while also providing an authority with a great communication tool for engagement with the surrounding communities.
These TOD plans can cross authority boundaries and celebrate the infrastructure being delivered while also driving communities to consider how they can influence and participate, as well as benefit. Can we say the same has happened with Crossrail or is likely to happen with Crossrail 2? Who knows, it might even lead to every station on Crossrail 2 being considered and designed to become a fantastic landmark for the community around it. A building of real architectural quality, rather than an engineering exercise?
Co-ordination and comprehensiveness is essential, but in terms of Planning, I do really believe the tools are there, we just need to get better at using them.
We must be proactive, not reactive, and above all, ambitious.
Posted with the following keywords:
MIPIM, CIL, Infrastructure, TOD, Transport Orientated Design