Policy Based Evidence Creation – Making the Evidence fit the Policy

14 Jan 2011
Rather than adopting the traditional approach of relying on evidence to support and formulate planning policy it would appear as though Swale Borough Council are adopting policy based on evidence creation in its forthcoming Core Strategy Consultation.

It is clear that some fundamental aspects of the Core Strategy are to be consulted upon without any evidence base what so ever in support of the respective option concepts presented. Only if a particular option is favoured by the public will Swale Borough Council undertake after the event the necessary work to evaluate its feasibility.

Whilst it is understandable that the Swale Borough Council wouldn’t wish to commit to considerable expenditure on feasibility studies for every option presented to them, it does have the recourse to request that the developers behind major schemes provide appropriate and substantiated evidence to support them. Whilst this wouldn’t necessarily eliminate the need for the Council to undertake independent work in the longer term, it would assist in ruling out some schemes before they progressed to the Core Strategy stage.

One obvious question that needs to be addressed is “what happens if the publicly selected option isn’t feasible?” Will Swale Borough Council then start the whole process from scratch and at some fantastic cost to the tax payers of Swale?