The Southern Region
Arising under the Local Government Reform Act 2014 the Southern Regional Assembly has assumed a number of new functions. Chief among these new responsibilities is the preparation of a Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy (RSES) for the Southern Region. The RSES is a link between the forthcoming National Planning Framework, the City and County Development Plans and the Local Economic and Community Plans. Through this process the Assembly is centrally involved in the formulation of policies geared towards achieving a greater dispersal of economic growth and development throughout the region.
To ensure that all local authority development plans are consistent with the RSES and relevant national policy, draft plans or proposed variations to development plans are referred by the Local Authority to the Regional Assembly. Following the preparation of a new draft development plan, or a proposed variation to an existing development plan, the Regional Assembly will consider if the draft is consistent with the RSES and can issue formal recommendations to the relevant local authority where necessary.
The Assembly is a prescribed body under the Planning Acts. This means that it must be consulted on certain strategic infrastructural proposals. When assessing any such proposals the Assembly has regard to the general welfare, strategic planning and sustainable development requirements of the region. In practise this means it takes into account the physical, economic, social, demographic, infrastructural and environmental situation of the region. Under the Act the Assembly must seek to protect or improve the region’s environment, its heritage, amenity and cultural resources.