Last edited 29 Sep 2020

Community strategy for local authorities

The Local Government Act 2000, Part 1, Section 4, ‘Strategies for promoting well-being’ requires that local authorities in England prepare a strategy to co-ordinate the public, private, voluntary and community sectors for promoting or improving the economic, social and environmental well-being of their area and contributing to the achievement of sustainable development.

The Act refers to this as a ‘community strategy’, although local authorities may describe it as a ‘sustainable communities strategy’ or a ‘community plan’.

The Act requires that the local authority must consult and seek the participation of such persons as they consider appropriate in the preparation of the community strategy and that they must have regard to any guidance issued by the Secretary of State. Before issuing any guidance the Secretary of State must consult with representatives of local government and others they consider appropriate. The local authority may from time to time modify their community strategy.

The local government white paper ‘Strong and prosperous communities’ published in 2008 suggested that:

‘The role of the Sustainable Community Strategy is to set out the strategic vision for a place. It provides a vehicle for considering and deciding how to address difficult cross-cutting issues such as the economic future of an area, social exclusion and climate change. Building these issues into the community’s vision in an integrated way is at the heart of creating sustainable development at the local level.

However, on 13 April 2011, the statutory guidance to local authorities on preparing a community strategy was withdrawn, and clause 66 of the Deregulation Bill: ‘Repeal of duty to prepare sustainable community strategy’ proposes repealing section 4 of the Local Government Act 2000 and so removing the duty for local authorities to prepare a community strategy. The repeal is proposed as part of the localism agenda giving local authorities the freedom to decide whether or not a community strategy is needed for their area. The clause will come into force two months from the day on which the Bill becomes an Act.

NB The London Plan, Published by the Mayor of London in March 2016, defines community strategies as: ‘…practical tools for promoting or improving the economic, social and environmental wellbeing of the area of jurisdiction of a local authority. Such strategies are prepared allowing for local communities (based upon geography and/or interest) to articulate their aspirations, needs and priorities.’

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