The delivery of large-scale new communities is a colossal task. Such developments are complex, long-term projects that require commitment from across the political, economic, corporate and planning divisions of the local authorities that help to deliver them. Success depends on robust programme management so that the new communities can be holistically planned and delivered. That in turn is reliant on a dedicated team with a breadth of expertise, and a culture of positive collaboration that builds trust among a wide range of stakeholders.
While there are different models of delivery, with local authorities playing different roles and exercising varying degrees of control, there is a huge opportunity for local authorities to drive delivery using project and programme management tools. There is a tendency to see these projects as purely planning issues, but they are much more complex development programmes that necessitate a programmatic approach from early on, following an overall execution plan, in order to navigate the planning process and smooth the path between planning consent and delivery.
Based on research carried out among local authorities, private sector delivery partners and government agencies, this guide provides technical guidance and sets out key principles for local authorities and other practitioners delivering large-scale new communities who wish to take a lead in a programmatic approach to delivery.
Recommendation 1: Early on, a clear vision should be agreed by all partners, underpinned by a strong programme execution plan.
Recommendation 2: Local authorities should carry out a skills, capability and capacity audit to ensure that they have the right skills and staff roles and the appropriate programme structures and processes in place from the outset.
Recommendation 3: The governance structure should have a clear purpose, and the programme management team should make sure that the purpose aligns with the needs of each stage of the programme. The governance structure should be kept simple but under regular review.
Recommendation 4: Local authorities should ensure that they have the right type of stakeholder partnership and should secure broad public participation – the project and programme management office should act as the thread that integrates it all.
Recommendation 5: Each local authority should develop a way of reporting that is effective in its context and is refined for its audience.