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With Local Authorities facing the challenges of climate change, the housing crisis, delivering the levelling up agenda and budget cuts, there is a clear need to collaborate and work together. In October 2020, the RTPI proposed the introduction of Green Growth Boards in our response to the Planning for the Future white paper. Green Growth Boards would bring together local authorities and key stakeholders and establish collaborative and interlinked strategies to tackle the challenges that a region faces.

You can download the report here or read in full below

Report author:

Harry Steele, RTPI Infrastructure Specialist




Executive Summary

1. Introduction

2. Green Growth Boards
    Local Environment Improvement Plans

3. Case Studies
    London and the South East
    Oxfordshire Joint Statutory Spatial Plan
    Central Lincolnshire Joint Strategic Planning Committee
    Leicester –Strategic Growth Plan
    Liverpool Spatial Development Strategy

4. Interviews
    Bring Planners to the Table
    Establish and Interlink Core Policy Areas
    Be Ambitious and Innovative

5. Conclusion


Interviewee Bios

Report contact

Executive Summary

With Local Authorities facing the challenges of climate change, the housing crisis, delivering the levelling up agenda and budget cuts, there is a clear need to collaborate and work together. In October 2020, the RTPI proposed the introduction of Green Growth Boards in our response to the Planning for the Future white paper. Green Growth Boards would bring together local authorities and key stakeholders and establish collaborative and interlinked strategies to tackle the challenges that a region faces.

This report combines case studies and interviews with key members of existing examples of cross boundary groups to establish guidance and best practice for prospective Green Growth Boards. Whilst local authorities and stakeholders often face restrictions in funding and capacity, our research identifies the significant benefits that can arise from this collaborative approach to planning. The report establishes the importance for effective communication, the alignment and collaboration of existing and future strategies and the overarching need to be ambitious and innovative.

Through the adoption and embracing of these key themes, Green Growth Boards can be established and promote an interlinked and cooperative approach to planning in a region. Through this approach, local authorities and key stakeholders can begin to address some of their greatest challenges and capitalise upon the new opportunities that this approach to planning brings.

1. Introduction

Local authorities are currently facing some of their greatest challenges, delivering upon the Government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda, addressing the housing shortage, leading the post-Covid economic recovery and combatting climate change. At the RTPI we see that the challenges faced by local authorities go well beyond their physical boundaries.

In its Planning for the Future white paper published in August 2020, the Government acknowledged that the “duty to cooperate”, enacted after the abolition of integrated regional strategies in 2012, was not working. However, the white paper did not go so far as to proposed a replacement.

In our October 2020 response to the white paper, the RTPI proposed non statutory but effective Green Growth Boards (GGBs). These groups would bring together various local authorities throughout a region to facilitate co-operative and interlined strategies and frameworks to tackle climate action, infrastructure, housing provision, the environment and other areas. 

There has been a growing appetite for cross boundary strategic planning, with a range of groups such as the County Council Network and Localis highlighting its importance to tackling the housing and climate crises whilst also delivering upon the ‘levelling up’ agenda.

Whilst there are currently no direct replacements for the Regional Development Agencies, there are examples of inclusive and interlinked approaches to spatial planning throughout the UK that will be discussed later in the report. Each example demonstrates unique methods of managing their challenges and opportunities, whilst also championing a co-operative approach to spatial planning. Alongside these case studies, this report includes interviews with key members of existing examples of cross boundary groups.

From the case studies and interviews, the report will establish an understanding of the best practice for prospective GGBs in the future.

2. Green Growth Boards

In our response to the white paper, we proposed GGBs to bring about cross boundary cooperation for housing numbers and also the coordination of all the essential services necessary to support growth within an area, including health care, public health, transport, utilities, housing and environmental recovery.

Provision should be made for GGBs to:

  • Help join the dots from the outset between environmental, transport, housing, water, energy, resource and health plans.
  • Help identify the best locations for development (Growth and Renewal areas) and protection, and to facilitate the timely implementation of supporting infrastructure.
  • Ensure plans that meet agreed criteria be available to view as layers alongside environmental and social mapping on the shared geo-spatial platform.

Figure 1 below provides an overview of the areas, topics and frameworks that would be captured within a GGB.

Figure 1: Green Growth Board Overview

GGBs provide a solution to the challenges raised in the white paper regarding how ‘strategic cross-boundary issues (such as major infrastructure or strategic sites) can be adequately planned for. This not only includes the scale at which plans are best prepared in areas with significant strategic challenges, but also how to weave the set of social and environmental objectives into strategic infrastructure development.

Without creating an additional administrative layer, GGBs would bring together local authorities and other relevant organisations at a strategic scale. This would in turn facilitate strategic infrastructure planning at, for example, combined authority level, through elected Mayoral areas or through locally led Development Corporations.

Rather than imposing a prescriptive structure or timetable from the top - at least initially - LPAs could opt to come together under a GGB and agree what model and protocols to use to enable GGB members to come to collective decisions quickly; perhaps utilising standard (yet flexible) templates prepared by central government.

Membership of a GGB could be incentivised through greater access to infrastructure investment and there would be a duty on utilities, infrastructure providers and relevant statutory bodies to participate. More specifically, participating organisations would include local authorities, mayoral-combined authorities and Development Corporations (where they exist), water companies, the Environment Agency, Natural England, Historic England, Public Health England, the NHS, Network Rail, Highways England, National Grid, the Local Economic Partnership, and Health and Wellbeing Boards.

 GGBs also need to relate to adjoining areas, through the creation of robust spatial ‘building blocks’ on which GGBs can operate; allowing them to work with those that have wider strategic planning responsibilities (e.g. sub-national transport bodies) as well as those that are at a more local ‘strategic’ spatial scale. For example, Surrey’s 2050Place Ambition is a growth framework for aligning long term spatial, infrastructure, environment and economic priorities across local authorities and other public sector agencies. Whilst the core geography is ‘Surrey’ it is also capable of influencing growth across its borders e.g., in Heathrow, Gatwick, Blackwater Valley and in London generally. In the same way, Oxfordshire as a core strategic planning ‘building block’ needs to be able to influence other spatial priorities in the Arc as well as other closer neighbours in Reading and Swindon.

Strategic planning frameworks also provide an opportunity for sharing of costs through jointly commissioning evidence bases, which can then be relied upon for the preparation of local plans. Areas like the south of Hampshire through the Partnership for South Hampshire (formerly Partnership for Urban South Hampshire) have a long-standing history of producing joint evidence bases, which in isolation is laudable. However, whilst these authorities understand the level of unmet needs and other strategic issues due to there being no ‘stick’ for failing to address these issues, there is little translation into individual local plans. The strategic infrastructure plans produced by county/Unitary councils in partnership with Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) may offer an alternative, with local plans required to meet a statutory test of conforming with the strategic infrastructure plans.

Local Environment Improvement Plans

We also provided our insights on the Local Environment Improvement Plans in our response to the white paper. Our feedback centred around the issue of the many, yet inadequate, spatial instruments and plans that exist for the environment,

The current instruments:

  • treat the environment in silos rather than systems of connected issues. As such, water availability and quality, soil quality, flood mitigation, biodiversity and habitats are dealt with separately.
  • are normally administered and financed separately, with many single-issue streams of finance rather than in an integrated way, enabling coherent investment across multiple benefits.
  • are often managed on short decision timeframes rather than providing long term stability that accurately reflects the long-term nature of environmental challenges.
  • have notable gaps - in particular a clear basis to plan for nature’s recovery.
  • are distant from and unaccountable to local people.
  • are separate from the 'real' plans, notably local development plans, resulting in the environmental dimension often being introduced late in the day. This, in turn, assigns the environment as a source of conflict, rather than allowing developers and other stakeholders the opportunity, by way of providing strategic predictability, to build solutions in at the design stage.
  • do not cater for new measures such as net gain and the new Environmental Land Management scheme, which will only achieve value for money if supported by a coherent spatial framework for environmental improvement.

We believe that collectively local activity and investment (for example housing, infrastructure, water management, land management, community and voluntary activity, and public funding) can only contribute positively, efficiently and durably to the ambition of leaving the environment in a better state, if there is a shared spatial framework for improving local environments. Although Local Nature Recovery Strategies (LNRSs) provide the basis for a new approach, they risk introducing a new silo in an already piecemeal landscape of environmental plans, without providing clear direction for economic decision-making.

In the longer term the aim should be for LNRSs to coherently capture the whole of the environment (including, for example, water, flooding, soil and air quality). Thereby incorporating existing mechanisms into a single coherent approach. They might then logically adopt a new title: Local Environment Improvement Plans. This long-term aim would be most practically achieved by the SoS being required to commit to a review to develop a coherent environmental planning framework.

A coherent Local Environment Improvement Plan would develop a shared understanding of the environment including problems and opportunities, including:

  • providing an up-to-date assessment of the current state of the environment, with data frequency appropriate to need
  • showing where the environment is in a favourable/unfavourable/etc state,
    including modelling of trends where appropriate
  • overlaying other activities/communities where relevant, helpful and feasible
    assessing causes and drivers for improvement
  • showing designations and other spatial rules

And it would create a shared strategy to improve the environment by:

  • collating local needs, expectations and preferences from the environment
  • providing a basis for coherently marrying environmental needs with the place-based needs of other parts of government/society/economy
  • showing opportunities for nature’s recovery and environmental improvements
  • agreeing priorities for improvement
  • agreeing plans, programmes and projects, where improvements need to be incorporated into other plans and arrangements for continuous improvement outside local environment plan cycles
  • reporting on where collaboration is needed, or measures from higher tiers of government

The resulting Local Environment Improvement Plan would not reproduce all the individual details of the absorbed plans: these would need to be retained in some form at working level. However, the proposal would address many of the current problems arising from having multiple plans.

3. Case Studies

London and the South East

Whilst discussions around ‘Levelling up’ have often ignored London and the South East as a whole, these regions must be viewed as key players in delivering growth across the UK. This requires a co-ordinated approach to planning across the region, that is built upon strong leadership and inclusive cooperation. The region must form a consensus around its own priorities and ensure that they help to deliver effective growth.

Currently the region operates through a range of partnerships, including the Mayor’s London Plan for Greater London, various joint strategic plans and non-statutory frameworks outside of London as well as the government-led approaches such as the Oxford-Cambridge Arc and the Thames Estuary. The Government’s intention to remove the Duty to Cooperate could mean that these separate relationships and mechanisms remain isolated and do not embrace the need to plan collectively in order to overcome key issues such as climate change, economic recovery and housing needs.

Oxfordshire Joint Statutory Spatial Plan

The Oxfordshire Joint Statutory Spatial Plan, otherwise known as Oxfordshire Plan 2050, is a plan produced by the six Oxfordshire authorities. The plan was made as part of the £215m Oxfordshire Housing and Growth Deal with the Government and relates to a broad range of social, environmental and economic issues affecting the county in the near future. The Joint Spatial Plan is crucial to the region’s future with the increased focus upon the area as part of the Oxford-Cambridge Arc. As the Arc develops so will the spatial plan, helping the region’s biggest influences to stay interlinked and deliver the required infrastructure and housing for all. By having all six authorities involved, the Plan will be able to collectively consider the needs of the county and align its strategies so that future housing and infrastructure is more joined up.

There are three groups that have been established to help guide the preparation and delivery of the Oxfordshire Plan 2050.

Member sub-group
The Member sub-group is a sub-group of the Oxfordshire Growth Board and consists of members from all district/city councils as well as a county council observer. It provides political advice and input in the Oxfordshire Plan project team. It is not a decision-making body, but instead it makes recommendations to the Growth Board and Local Planning Authorities.

Officer Project Board
The Officer Project Board is made up of the Heads of Service from all district/city councils. Also on the board is the Oxfordshire Plan Project sponsor and the Oxfordshire Housing and Growth Deal Workstream Leads. There are also representatives from the County Council, OxLEP, Homes England and other statutory bodies.

Liaison Team
The Liaison Team is made up of planning officers from all six councils. It provides the key link between the team of people producing the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 and the authorities. The Liaison Team brings key messages from their organisations to those working on the Plan and provides feedback to them on proposals and plans based on discussions within their organisations. It works to produce project management documents and arrangements to initiate the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 project.

The extensive teams and interlinked policies help the region to tackle their biggest challenges, ranging from housing and infrastructure delivery to climate change. The draft Oxfordshire Plan 2050 begun its second consultation period on the 31st of July 2021.

Central Lincolnshire Joint Strategic Planning Committee

The Central Lincolnshire Joint Strategic Planning Committee was established in 2009 and helps bring together the various Councils in Lincolnshire to prepare, revise and submit joint local development schemes. The committee includes representatives from North Kesteven District Council, West Lindsey District Council, City of Lincoln Council and Lincolnshire County Council. The plan is proposed to replace the Local Plans of the City of Lincoln, West Lindsey and North Kesteven District Councils, and tackles issues ranging from climate change, housing and employment to shopping and more. The current plan is under review and was in consultation from the 30th of June to the 24th of August 2021.

The plan is built around four visions:

  1. A prosperous, stronger and sustainable Central Lincolnshire
  2. A growing central Lincolnshire
  3. A Caring Central Lincolnshire: meeting needs and provision of infrastructure
  4. A quality Central Lincolnshire

Across the four visions, the Local Plan is underpinned by the aim of delivering sustainable growth across the board, ensuring that the need for homes, jobs, services and facilities are met throughout Central Lincolnshire.

The Local Plan is closely aligned with a variety of strategies including:

  • Greater Lincolnshire Enterprise Partnership Strategic Economic Plan
  • Growth Strategy for Lincoln
  • Lincolnshire Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategy
  • Lincolnshire Joint Strategic Needs Assessment
  • Corporate Plans for City of Lincoln, North Kesteven and West Lindsey
  • Lincolnshire Biodiversity Action Plan
  • Lincolnshire Local Transport Plan and local transport strategies
  • Joint Lincolnshire Flood Risk and Drainage Management Strategy

Leicester –Strategic Growth Plan

Leicester’s Strategic Growth Plan was put together by the ten organisations in Leicester and Leicestershire to address the regions challenges, both now and in the future, and help to deliver opportunities and growth for the region. The plan was approved by the councils in 2018 and was published alongside a Sustainability Statement.

The Strategic Growth Plan outlies the challenges the region faces as well as their plans for growth, infrastructure and their overall spatial strategy. The plan recognises its need to be ‘larger than local’ when focusing upon its 4 core issues:

  1. Delivering new housing
  2. Supporting the economy
  3. Identifying essential infrastructure
  4. Protecting the environment and built heritage

The Strategic Growth Plan breaks down issues such as housing into 20-year elements, utilising Government data to map out their housing needs and requisite policies. Alongside this, their plans for infrastructure take into account the cities, communities, connections and growth around them in order to ensure that they are delivering what is needed for the region. The Midlands Engine forms an integral part of the economic and infrastructure strategies, helping to ensure that the Midlands grows as one.

The plan’s final pillar is the preservation and protection of the environment and historical assets. The region encapsulates areas such as National Forest, Charnwood Forest and Bosworth Battlefield, all of which hold particular environmental and heritage significance. The plan outlines the region’s intention to change the way that growth is delivered, preserving assets and focusing upon sustainable development. The collaboration across the councils and organisations is key in enhancing the role of Leicester whilst maintaining the strong ties between the city, market towns and rural areas.

For infrastructure delivery the plan focuses upon core projects such as the A46 priority growth corridor, the Leicestershire International gateway, the A5 improvement corridor and the regeneration of Melton Mowbray. Whilst these projects are all separate, the cooperative approach to them is key in creating the greatest benefits for each project.

Liverpool Spatial Development Strategy

In 2019 the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority (LCRCA) commenced work on the preparation of a statutory Spatial Development Strategy (SDS) for the city region area. The SDS was part of the devolution deal with the government, which set out the strategic planning framework for the City and the region, helping to guide Local Plans and Neighbourhood Plans within the six authorities comprising the LCRCA. The SDS will be the first of its kind for the City Region. It will set out a strategic framework for the development and use of land looking ahead at least 15 years. The SDS is a statutory planning document. This means that when it is published, it will form part of the ‘development plan’ for the six City Region local authorities alongside their own Local Plans and Neighbourhood Plans. SDS policies, when finalised, will therefore be considered when determining planning applications across the City Region.

The Strategy is built around five key themes:

  1. Climate change and the environment
  2. Health and Wellbeing
  3. Inclusive Economy
  4. Placemaking & Communities
  5. Social Value

The SDS will serve to bring together the spatial development aspects of other Combined Authority policies or proposals presenting an integrated approach. This includes:

  • LCR Draft Local Industrial Strategy
  • Building Back Better Economic Recovery Plan
  • LCR Housing Statement
  • Interim Air Quality Action Plan
  • LCR Transport Plan
  • LCR Climate Action Plan (under preparation)

In November 2020, the RTPI published a report which helped to inform the LCR’s Spatial Development Strategy and, in particular, helped to incorporate climate change into the strategy. The report, Strategic Planning for Climate Resilience; Recommendations to the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, was conducted as part of the RTPI’s Strategic Planning for Climate Resilience Project, which aims to assist planners in helping local authorities to adapt to and mitigate against climate change. Our report found that strategic bodies were well placed to act relatively quickly on climate resilience if they have the powers and frameworks to do so.

Our report also found that a successful spatial development strategy has seven consistent themes, which can also be found in the LCRCA Spatial Development Strategy. These themes are:

  • Appropriate scale: natural processes
  • Flexibility and consistency
  • Non-controversial resilience policy as a starting point for wider strategic planning
  • Planners are central and capturing agency is crucial
  • Strong evidence bases
  • Incorporating mitigation and adaptation
  • Supporting collaboration across borders

The LCRCA’s Spatial Development Strategy has incorporated these themes, perhaps most importantly bringing planning to the centre of the conversation and harbouring and promoting cross boundary collaboration to their benefit.

Not only was the LCRCA Spatial Development Strategy forward thinking in its establishment, but they also undertook exemplary work in their engagement with the public and in particular the younger demographics within their city. The LCRCA established and engaged with groups such as the Sefton Young Advisors, a group of 14 young people aged 15- 23 from across the Sefton borough. Key topic such as climate change and the environment, place making and communities, health and wellbeing and an inclusive economy were discussed in focus groups and online surveys with those aged 15-23 in the city. This engagement allowed LCRCA to truly understand what matters were important to the younger generations, as well as how they could be engaged with in the future. By undertaking this engagement LCRCA were able to take on board the views of groups that are often overlooked when creating frameworks and plans for their local area.

The forward thinking and innovative approach to regional planning has allowed LCRCA to create an interlinked Spatial Development Strategy that addresses the regions largest challenges and opportunities for both now and the future.

4. Interviews

We undertook four interviews with three key members of strategic cross boundary approaches to spatial planning, from which we have established key themes and best practice. These key themes and best practice can provide guidance to establish and implement GGBs throughout the UK. The bios for our interviewees can be found in the appendices.

Bring Planners to the Table

Perhaps the most consistent theme throughout our interviews was the need to ‘bring planners to the table’. All of our interviewees were clear in their understanding of the importance of planning and the need to bring planners into these cooperative and cross boundary conversations. One interviewee stated that “planning has been the poor relative” in regional government and that in order to make real progress, planning has to be brought into the conversation.

Planning of course has a crucial role to play in tackling climate change, delivering housing and infrastructure and many of the other challenges that local authorities face. However, planning is not always as influential as it could be. Planners and local planning authorities must hold a pivotal role in GGBs, in order to help bridge the gap between ambitions and real projects.

As the RTPI outlined in our response to the white paper, a chartered planner, preferably a local authority chief-place maker, should sit on a GGB. Not only would this allow strategic planning issues to be fully represented, but it would also ensure that strategic planning becomes more involved in the other challenges and opportunities throughout a region and enable all key strategies to be properly aligned from the earliest possible stage.

Planning is inherently linked to many of the challenges that regions face, whether that be in combatting climate change to protecting wellbeing and healthcare. The wide-reaching nature of planning has often been overlooked. However if GGBs are to be truly influential and successful, then planners must have a seat at the table.

Establish and Interlink Core Policy Areas

Throughout our interviews, there was a clear understanding that for a GGB to be successful they needed to be built around the key challenges and opportunities of the area. Each challenge and opportunity, whether they be related to the environment, transport or housing, should form an integral pillar of the GGB. Our interviewees also stated that these pillars should not be siloed. Instead, they should be given full recognition as interlinked policy areas. Each policy area should work in tandem with the others, ensuring that their plans and projects align in a complementary way.

It is essential that GGBs establish cooperation across boundaries and policy areas. In order to drive this holistic and cooperative approach to planning, communication must be built into the very foundations of GGBs. The Boards must be an open and collaborative space, from which inclusive frameworks and strategies can be assembled and aligned with existing strategies. The assembling of these groups would be most effectively led by a convener, likely the lead authority of the region.

Alongside the need for open and collaborative communication, our interviewees outline the need to look beyond politics and, instead, draw clear parallels between the various stakeholders in a region. This would involve looking beyond election cycles and adopting a truly holistic and long-term approach to strategic planning. Relationships between local authorities, MPs and stakeholders should be bridged to bring together a region and begin to tackle some of their most pressing issues.

By bringing together the key political and societal stakeholders in a region, GGBs would represent the identities of their communities, whilst tackling both national issues and the unique challenges and opportunities of their regions.

Be Ambitious and Innovative

Throughout all of our interviews, there was a clear understanding that in order to deliver GGBs, regions would have to be truly ambitious and rethink what ‘good’ actually looks like. In order to tackle such wide recaching issues like climate change and the housing crisis, local authorities and other stakeholders should establish equally diverse frameworks. Ultimately, we can no longer tackle the challenges of tomorrow with yesterday’s thinking. Instead, new and innovative approaches to strategic planning must be used to help drive these regions forwards.

There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to GGBs. Each wider area should adopt their own bespoke approach to reflect their own unique challenges and opportunities. Each GGB should be reflective of its own region, building its own regional identity and complementary frameworks.

Funding and resourcing have often been pinpointed as significant barriers to adopting new and imaginative approaches to planning, however GGBs could be established with minimal or no funding to begin with. Many of the current examples of cooperative approaches to strategic planning were established with no initial funding and no direction from government. These examples of innovation and ambition have hugely benefited these regions, detailing how they can work together and align their strategies.

Our interviewees also suggested that where regions may struggle to collaborate, a small amount of ‘seed funding’ could be utilised to build in the necessary resourcing and resiliency to establish a GGB. If areas were able to then demonstrate their willingness and capability to embrace cooperative approaches to strategic planning, then this could lead to greater levels of investment in the long term. Consequently, by detailing a willingness to work collaboratively, local authorities and key stakeholders could both begin to tackle some of their most significant challenges whilst also positioning themselves well for investment in the long run.

Not only could GGBs lead to greater investment in the future, they would also likely lead to greater savings through economies of scale and gained efficiencies. With an open and cooperative approach to planning, projects and key stakeholders can identify crossovers and shared interested and ultimately capitalise upon these. This could be as simple as two construction projects in one region sharing heavy machinery. The potential for economies of scale and the efficiencies gained from interlinked working from an early stage could repay the ambition that regions show in the long term.

Overall, the need to be both ambitious and innovative is perhaps the most crucial element of establishing a GGB. Whilst local authorities are facing significant challenges at a time when their funding has been cut, the need to approach challenges with new and imaginative solutions is as crucial as ever.

5. Conclusion

Our case studies and interviews demonstrate various successful iterations of GGBs. They each promote cross boundary collaboration in the face of challenges such as climate change and the housing crisis. From our own research and the insights of our interview participants, there are clear benefits to be gained from this approach to strategic planning. Whilst the prospect of bringing together a group of key stakeholders in a region may seem daunting in a time of budget cuts and economic recovery, the reality is that the embracing of holistic and cross boundary cooperation can provide significant benefits in the short- and long-terms. The following three clear themes have emerged from our research, and are clearly demonstrated in the case studies : communicate, collaborate and innovate.


Perhaps the most crucial element for GGBs is to establish open, constructive and meaningful communication. Stakeholders should be brought together to communicate their challenges, opportunities and resulting strategies in order to establish an interconnected understanding of a region. Whilst the direction that a GGB can take will vary for each region, the need to communicate effectively and collaboratively will be a core component of any cross boundary strategic planning approach.


Following on from the need to communicate effectively, there is a need to collaborate and align each stakeholder’s work with the overarching objectives of the GGB. Stakeholders should identify and capitalise upon crossovers in their projects, existing strategies and visions and drive cooperation in these areas. By doing this, stakeholders can begin to share expertise and insight, strengthening both the GGB and their own individual projects. GGBs can challenge siloed thinking and establish cooperative and meaningful approaches to some of the biggest challenges facing local regions, whether that be housing, climate or levelling up. 


Finally, GGBs should be innovative. There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to GGBs, or to tackling the challenges that regions face. Instead, the GGBs should represent their unique region and have the capacity to adapt and evolve as necessary to meet their challenges and opportunities. Whilst GGBs provide a framework to drive interregional and cross boundary collaborative working, the members of the Boards are best positioned to design these groups and steer their work. Consequently, whilst this report has established an understanding of best practice and guidance for GGBs, they should ultimately be innovative groups which can evolve and change overtime to meet the needs of their regions.


Interviewee Bios

Victoria Hills MRTPI FICE

Victoria holds a place on the Essex Climate Action Committee, a cross boundary group hosted by Essex County Council which was set up to advise the region on how best to tackle climate change. The commission has over 30 members, ranging from local councillors and academics to business and members of the Young Essex Assembly. The Essex Climate Action Committee aims to identify ways to mitigate the effects of climate change, improve air quality and explore how they can attract investment in natural capital, green infrastructure and low carbon growth. The Committee will initially run for two years, and in that time has produced reports including Net Zero: Making Essex Carbon Neutral report.

Professor Paul Leinster CBE

Paul is the Chair of both the Oxford—Cambridge Arc Local Natural Capital Plan Partnership Group and the Bedfordshire Local Nature Partnership. Both of these groups help to drive cross boundary cooperation and interlinked working throughout their respected regions. The Oxford—Cambridge Arc Local Natural Capital Plan Partnership Group is the first project delivering under the Arc Environment pillar and was conceived to support the delivery of environmental protection and enhancement as part of the planned growth and investment within the Arc. A secondary aim of the OxCam Local Natural Capital Plan Partnership Group project is to provide a scalable and replicable framework for local natural capital plans elsewhere.

Hannah Bartram

Hannah is the Chief Operating Officer at the Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport (ADEPT). ADEPT represents place directors from county, unitary and combined authorities, along with Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), sub-national transport boards and corporate partners drawn from key service sectors throughout England. Throughout ADEPT’s membership there are multiple examples of cross boundary collaboration and interlinked frameworks.

Tim Crawshaw

Tim is the Chair of the Tees Valley Nature Partnership, which brings together over 40 organisations to conserve wildlife and improve socio-economic benefits and services provided by a healthy natural environment. Their work includes the creation of a natural capital account for the Tees Valley area which was established with Tees Valley Combined Authority and Natural England.

Report contact

For more information about this paper please contact [email protected] OR [email protected]

Tel: 020 7929 9494

Report author

Harry Steele

[email protected]

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