Blog: Strategic asset management & spatial planning at the heart of the Local Authority model
The Local Authority needs to consider how its operating model can support the borough’s growth aspirations. It is essential there is a vision for the borough, and that it has ‘spatial expression’. Ideally, the Sustainable Communities Strategy and the LDF Core Strategy would have been developed in concert, and are mutually dependent.
Or, why not combine the two into a single framework for your ‘place’?
To ensure ‘vision’ and ‘spatial expression’ make it off the drawing board, we need to have a long term infrastructure delivery plan that make strategies deliverable. Too often such plans are just an appendix to the main strategy documents.
We must also consider what makes for an effective investment framework – how can the Local Authority ensure investment in the local economy is targeted and sustainable?
The corporate vision must set the parameters for action at the local level
The Local Authority vision must be informed by the spatial characteristics of the area and towns, villages or neighbourhoods within it.
The localism agenda provides an opportunity to reconsider the nature of need in particular places and communities. Specifically, there is an opportunity to link the organisation of services much more closely to the needs of a neighbourhood, as well as considering the opportunities for co-location of services within neighbourhoods.
We advocate a response to the Localism Bill and reduced budgets that uses neighbourhood planning processes integrated with existing Local Development Frameworks to determine what services are best organised at a local level. As no communities make a distinction between what is traditionally a ‘Planning’ function and what is an ‘Environmental Services’ function, a joined up approach makes sense in terms of the customer, and back office operations.
Infrastructure is more than just a bolt-on
Getting strategic and local infrastructure right is related to successful economic growth. An area’s starting ‘condition’ in terms of infrastructure age, quality and accessibility, along with its ambitions, need to be considered if the Local Authority is going to achieve growth in the local economy. Lower direct capital expenditure from the Government means more private providers will need to be enabled to step in. This may mean the Local Authority needs to rebalance its capital and revenue expenditure in the short-term to invest in local infrastructure that enables enterprise and growth.
Create a framework to manage your assets and investments
The Local Authority leadership should create a capital investment framework that adheres to some clear principles:
Portfolio management - with first class management information sequence the commissioning, delivery and recommissioning of capital works within the portfolio to ensure maximum return on investment over the medium and long term. Revenue funding must be
linked through whole life costings. Strategic commissioning will enable an effective procurement process
Tailored procurement frameworks - a key element, the revision of existing frameworks and the introduction of a fully considered needs based framework, one that favours cost effective and preferably local suppliers. Ensure the provision of open data and robust management information to support the development of vibrant local markets from which to commission
Funding stability – increase stability of funding in uncertain times by making long term commitments in segmented delivery cycles. The long-term commitment provides the stability, and the medium term delivery cycles provide portfolio management control. And exploit other funding opportunities that agreed and stable funding stability inevitably provides
Rationalise funding streams – local government will have to manage its funding in a far more straightforward manner in the future, and the current Localism Bill has made provision to further reduce ring-fenced funding. This will require a performance management system that can support both the transition from single to multiple funding streams, as well as the final rationalised funding stream – with corresponding objectives and targets.