What does it do?
The South West Regional Assembly exists to promote the economic, social and environmental well-being of all who live and work in the region. It reviews and develops wide ranging strategies at the regional level to provide an over-arching vision for the South West. It works to provide a voice for the region and aims to develop the capacity for further action at the regional level.
It has three main functions:
Scrutiny of the South West Regional Development Agency
As a designated regional chamber, the South West Regional Assembly has a role to scrutinise the work of the South West Regional Development Agency (RDA), to ensure the RDA’s plans and operations meet the needs of the region effectively. The South West Regional Assembly was the first to hold a public hearing on the work of the RDA and has examined topics including Skills and Learning, the Rural Economy in the South West, Business Development and Urban Renaissance. More recently, the Scrutiny Panel has examined how the RDA supports broadband in the South West. The scrutiny process is lead by a 12-strong Panel of Assembly Members and much of their work is carried out in public - including regional workshops. The approach to scrutiny in the South West received recognition in the Government’s White Paper – Your Region Your Choice.
Under the reforms to the planning system, the Regional Assembly has been designated as the Regional Planning Body (RPB) for the South West. In this role the RPB is responsible for preparing, monitoring and reviewing Regional Planning Guidance for the South West (RPG10). In addition the RPB is required to produce an Annual Monitoring Report to assess the extent to which the policies within the RPG have been implemented.
The current RPG10, adopted in 2001, is under review after changes to the planning system. RPG10 is now called the Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS) and it is a statutory document. A new Regional Spatial Strategy for 2006 - 2026 is being put in place to provide a broad strategy for future development in the region over a fifteen to twenty year period. It will inform the preparation of future statutory development plans, prepared by local authorities. As part of its work on RSS, the Assembly is also responsible for the preparation of the Regional Transport Strategy, the Regional Environment Strategy and the Regional Waste Strategy.
The Assembly works in close partnership with the local authorities and other local organisations, to ensure an integrated and co-ordinated approach to the future growth and development of the region. Since September 28 2004, the Regional Assembly has had statutory consultee status, enabling the Assembly to comment on major strategic planning applications and proposals in the South West.
Integrating Regional Working and Strategies
The Regional Governance White Paper stresses the need for better integration between regional strategies and more co-ordinated working between regional organisations.
The Regional Assembly has worked closely with regional organisations across the South West to prepare an Integrated Regional Strategy (IRS) for the South West. 'Just Connect', the South West’s IRS, which was launched by the Regional Assembly in November 2004, provides a common set of objectives and outcomes for the region as a basis for encouraging more consistent policy making in the region in the future.
The Regional Assembly, together with partner regional agencies, prepared an implementation plan for the delivery of the IRS called 'Now Connecting'.
The Regional Sustainable Development Framework, 'A Sustainable Future for the South West' was produced in December 2000 by Sustainability South West, on behalf of Government Office South West. The South West Regional Assembly is now responsible for taking forward the framework and monitoring progress against its objectives. The Assembly prepares Progress Reports on the Sustainability Framework and Assembly Members promote sustainable development through Member Groups. The assembly has signed up to Ambassador status for Future Foundations – a sustainable construction charter for the region to promote sustainability principles in its own activities and with partners. It has also been involved in a range of sustainability projects in the region, including on climate change and sustainable tourism.