I was interested to see the letter from the Chief Planner on the need to align Planning and Roads Construction Consent (RCC) in the approval of new developments.

The need for these two consents to be considered in parallel has never been greater. The introduction of policy documents such as "Designing Streets" and "Designing Places" was intended to encourage a less formal street design, taking account of local circumstances and characteristics, and to throw away the old prescriptive design standards that meant that every housing layout, wherever it was, had to be built around a "standard detail" road layout.

SCOTS produced their own "National Roads Development Guide" in February 1984 to give guidance to local authorities on how to apply a consistent approach to the balance between "place" and "movement" and encourage new streets to be designed accordingly.

Some roads authorities have fully embraced all of this, and are happy to undertake early consultations between developers and the appropriate officers, with quality audits to record design decisions throughout the process, and are open to new ideas to enhance "place".

Others haven't, and are still applying "standards" which Designing Streets clearly states, in its opening paragraphs, to be outdated.

I understand how it can be difficult for local authorities where resources are limited. Some authorities are clear that they have to prioritise current planning applications and therefore cannot engage in "consultation" until there is an application on the table - by which time, of course, it is too late to engage in collaborative design. The danger then, of course, is that the developer has to "play safe" and design to details and standards which that particular authority has accepted in the past - which rather defeats the purpose of current policy!

Nevertheless, the government are pressing for more effective delivery of housing, and better consultation throughout between planning and RCC officers should help.

If RCC requirements aren't aligned with planning responses, you find yourself with an agreement in principle, to a road system that they won't let you build, and any material changes might require a new planning application. Or worse - a constrained access junction that they have approved after negotiation through planning, needs more land (that you don't have) to get RCC? BIG problem!