Town Planning Review

Structure Plan appraisal and the SEA Directive

Town Planning Review (2003), 74, (4), 395–422.

Abstract

Structure Plan appraisal reports provide valuable insights into the appraisal practices of English county councils. This paper presents the findings of an examination of evidence of the inclusion of a number of key good practice appraisal elements within 40 Structure Plan appraisal reports. The results are used to provide an assessment of the 'process quality' of Structure Plan appraisal practice since 1995. The methodological requirements of the European SEA Directive, which will soon apply to Structure Plans, provide a useful context for discussing the results of this study. The perspectives of relevant experts concerning good practice appraisal techniques are used as a further benchmark from which to draw conclusions. The results of the examination suggest that the process quality of Structure Plan appraisals falls short of meeting the methodological requirements of the Directive, and of experts, perspectives of good practice appraisal procedures. Several reasons are proposed to explain this situation, centring on the political nature of decision making in this sector. Although based around an examination of Structure Plan appraisal reports, the results of this study provide insights relevant to the appraisal of strategic planning documents more generally.

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Author details

Carter, Jeremy

Wood, Christopher

Baker, Mark