Monday, 11 April 2011

Marine Spatial Planning

I'm getting interested in marine spatial planning - basically the idea that the use of the sea should be planned like the use of land and just left for a market free-for-all. It's a bit trickier than land-use planning as things float in the sea, so you're planning in three dimensions. The sea is also international. The sea is also subject to lots of old ad hoc regulation regimes. But, we're starting to do.

Scotland passed the Marine (Scotland) Act last year which sets up our Marine Spatial Planning system. And they're consulting on the first national Marine Plan now. My first thought was: where's the map? It's a nice survey with some nice vague obejctives, but you're just left with a feeling of "what do they want, where?", which surely planning is all about, even in the sea?

Anyhoo, I've put together a response to the consultation that I'm going to send off. But it has got me thinking about the utter reticence we have for having actual maps in plans in the UK. We're more than happy to write hundreds of pages of policies about where development can go, but scared of actual maps that actually say we want actual things actually here. I know there's a whole literature out there on this that I should read... But the end of it is we have plans that look like this. The best Structure Plan key diagram I ever saw (it might have been in one of the abolished Regional Spatial Strategies, actually) had, instead of housing sites with actual delivery capacities, just had a house with represented how many new homes that area was supposed to have. The bigger the house, the bigger the supposed capacity. Suffice to say, it just meant it looked like a few places were going to get two gigantic houses whereas everywhere else would get a little house each.

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