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The Regional Spatial Strategy

Mother and Baby - Courtesy of Dorset County Council


The proposed reforms to the planning system of the early 2000s envisaged the consolidation of strategic planning at the regional level in Regional Spatial Strategies.  This involved the removal of county level structure plans and the upgrading of Regional Planning Guidance (in the South West RPG 10) from 'guidance', with the new  Regional Spatial Strategy becoming part of the stautory development plan alongside Local Development Documents LDDs.   The intention was that the new RSS would provide an overarching strategy to guide development in the South West providing a framework for the preparation of LLDs. 

Work on the draft RSS began in advance of the legislation (Planning & Compulsory Purchase Act 2004) in 2003 and this was before the designation of the Assembly as Regional Planning Body.    Relevant communication from the responsible government department can be found here.

There were three main phases to the preparation of the draft RSS

Stage 1 2003 to 2006 preparation of the submmitted draft RSS including background studies here

Stage 2 2007 EiP including the Panel Report here 

Stage 3 2008 to 2010 post EiP including the Proposed Changes to the draft RSS made by the Secretary of State here 

Important features of the approach adopted in the South West to the preparation of the submitted draft RSS by the Regional Planning Body during the 2 years of preparation are worth noting

1  The officer arrangements set in place during the 1990s as part of the RPG process, reporting to the SW Regional Planning Conference largely persisted into the 2000s bolstered by the establishment of a relatively small team of officers employed within the Assembly secretariat, funded by government grant.  Member arrangements for taking forward the work were also clearly focussed.

2  The incorporation of independent SSA assessment by Land Use Consultants early in the process proved invaluable 

3  Extensive consultation throughout the preparation period


Draft RSS Poster 

RSS Briefing Powerpoint Slides used in 2006


The Assembly approved the Draft Regional Spatial Strategy at its meeting on 10 March 2006, and submitted it to Government on 24 April 2006.

The Draft RSS was open for public consultation during Summer 2006. Consultation responses were submitted to the independent Examination in Public (EiP) Panel.

The Panel invited organisations and individuals to be participants in the Examination in Public to discuss and test the Draft RSS. The EiP ran from 17 April to 6 July 2007.  The independent Panel's report was published on 10 January 2008. This was submitted to the Secretary of State.

The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government published the Proposed Changes to South West’s long term plan on 22 July 2008, which marked the start of a 12 week consultation, which Government Office for the South West ran until 24 October 2008.

The Secretary of State’s Proposed Changes to the Draft RSS take account of the Examination in Public Panel's recommendations along with representations made about the Draft RSS and other relevant evidence.

In September 2009, the Government Office for the South West announced that further Sustainability Appraisal work needs to be carried-out on the Proposed Changes.  The outcome of which was expected in early 2010.  This work delayed the final publication of the RSS. For more information click here.    Following the general election, the new Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government took a ministerial decision to revoke RSSs, subsequently enacted in the Localism Act 2011.


The submitted draft RSS took the Assembly team about two years to complete including a full SSA process and extensive consultation at various stages before its submission in April 2006.   Following submission, an EIP in spring 2007 and Proposed Changes made by Government the following year, the RSS had still not been adopted when it was revoked, along with the others, by ministerial edict in the early summer of 2010.


Background to the Draft RSS 

The Regional Assembly was designated the South West’s Regional Planning Body (RPB) on 28 September 04. This role has two key statutory functions...

 What is the Draft RSS 

The Regional Spatial Strategy, or RSS, is a new kind of plan up to the year 2026.  Latest news is available in the RSS Update and more information can be found in FAQs...

The Examination in Public of the Draft RSS and Panel's Report  

The Examination in Public took place from 17 April to 6 July 07.  The independent Panel's report has been published...

Draft RSS Documents 

The documents submitted to Government are available here...

Gypsies and Travellers

How many new pitches
for Gypsies and Travellers need to be provided in each district in the South West between
2006 - 2026?

Proposed Changes and Consultation

The Secretary of State published the Proposed Changes to South West’s long term plan on 22 July 2008, which marked the start of a 12 week consultation...

Annual Monitoring Report 

The Assembly, as the Regional Planning Body, has a responsibility to monitor the implementation and effectiveness of Regional Planning Guidance (RPG 10) for the South West.

Indepth and Detailed Information

A number of background
and technical documents
are available on this page
along with Joint Study Area documents and Saved Structure Plan Policies...

Technical Studies Published Since the EiP 

The Regional Assembly, as Regional Planning Body, commissioned a number of technical studies to help respond to discussions...

Implementation and Delivery 

Government guidance requires the regional Planning Body to produce an Implementation Plan alongside or as part of the RSS...