For once Broadland District Council's PR team have neglected to make headlines about an award granted to the Greater Norwich Development Partnership of which they are a member and one can only imagine their current embarrassment at the timing of the award. The RTPI Planning Awards apparently exist "to celebrate the contribution that planners and planning make to society through enhancements of the physical environment that create recognisable social and economic benefit."
The day before the judge had given his verdict on the legal challenge to the Joint Core Strategy, the Royal Town Planning Institute gave a highly commended award to the Greater Norwich Development Partnership for their spatial strategy saying:
"Despite differences in their character and political make-up, Broadland District Council, Norwich City Council and South Norfolk Council have forged a successful partnership to pursue their shared growth agenda.
Their joint core strategy, produced under the umbrella of the Greater Norfolk Development Partnership with Norfolk County Council providing a strategic overview, sets a long-term vision which aims to ensure their areas benefit from growth and secure the infrastructure needed to support it.
The judges found the 156-page strategy, which features just 20 policies, well structured and clearly linked to the evidence base. They discovered evidence of strong project management from directors in each council and an external manager, as well as a real commitment between the partners to collaborative working at both officer and member level.
Further joint working is now under way on an investment plan, a joint Community Infrastructure Levy charging schedule and a five-year business plan"
The fact the the JCS could have been submitted as possible contender for the award is amazing enough although given BDC's previous tack record for entering such competitions perhaps we should not have been surprised.
The judge was a little less fulsome in his praise for the JCS. In his detailed judgment the Judge explained that documents for a proposed development such as the JCS had to be presented in such a way that they could readily be accessed with no paper chase to find out what had not been considered and why it had been rejected. During his summing up in December he said that trying to find relevant documentation was "like wading through treacle” and asked the GNDP why they had not made it simple.