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13. Community Safety

Core Strategy Strategic Objective

To improve community safety and reduce the potential for crime and disorder through new development

SCS Strategic Aim

People feel safe

Why is this a strategic objective?

13.1 Levels of crime and disorder are key factors in determining where people want to live. Everyone should be able to feel safe in their surroundings as this is an important contributor to people's quality of life and a key element of community cohesion. Addressing crime and antisocial behaviour can also reduce social inequalities and support economic regeneration of areas.

13.2 Overall, the levels of crime and antisocial behaviour in the District are low compared with the county and national averages, and have been falling, with the lowest ever recorded levels of domestic burglary and car crime. However, crime and antisocial behaviour are still key issues in many communities with certain types of crime more prevalent in the District than others, and certain areas suffering from a higher proportion of crime. A number of initiatives are being undertaken to promote safer neighbourhoods and town centres, tackle behaviour, and reduce crime and the fear of crime. It is important that the Core Strategy supports these initiatives through controlling the design and location of new development.

Evidence:

Participation

13.3 In response to the "Issues Paper", over 60% of people considered reducing poverty, social exclusion, crime and antisocial behaviour a high priority. In tackling crime, respondents considered design to promote community spirit to be the most important factor in 'designing out crime'. Other suggestions included, providing better infrastructure, adequate lighting, and youth facilities and engaging people in their own environment. In stakeholder consultations, Warwickshire Police have stressed the importance of liaison in considering the location and design of new development to promote community safety. Youth and Community services have also confirmed the fear of crime was particularly high among young people.

13.4 The Warwickshire County Council Public Satisfaction Survey (2007) and the more recent Place Survey (2008) highlighted that Warwick District residents consider a 'low level of crime' as the most important factor in making somewhere a good place to live. In addition, the fourth most important factor in need of improvement was the level of crime. The Localities Profiles (2008) for Warwick District show that there are wide discrepancies between different neighbourhoods. For instance in figures for 2007/08, the South Leamington and North Leamington areas were more than double that of Whitnash, Kenilworth and the rural areas of Warwick district.

Research

13.5 The following documents provide further evidence of the importance of promoting community safety and existing strategies to tackle it:

  • South Warwickshire Partnership Plan 2008 - 2011 has a vision to make the area an attractive, environmentally sustainable, desirable area in which to live work and visit, with a sense of safety proportionate to the low risk of becoming a victim of crime in the area. Violent crime, antisocial behaviour and serious acquisitive crime are confirmed as the top three priorities; and,
  • An Evening Economy Strategy is currently being developed. The strategy will focus initially on Leamington town centre and includes aims to make the town centre accessible to all in the evening, whilst protecting the quality of life for residents.

National and Regional Planning Policies

13.6 Relevant national planning policy is contained within PPS1: Delivering Sustainable Development (2005). PPS1 requires local planning authorities to promote communities which are inclusive, healthy, safe and crime free. They must ensure that developments create safe and accessible places where crime and disorder or the fear of crime does not undermine quality of life or community cohesion. Draft PPS4: Planning for Prosperous Economies also identifies the requirement for local planning authorities to prepare policies to help manage the evening and night-time economy in appropriate centres. In addition, Safer Places - The Planning System and Crime Prevention (ODPM & Home Office, 2004) provides more detailed guidance on how planning authorities can help to design out crime and improve community safety. Safer Places - A Counter Terrorism Supplement, which was published April 2009, has been drafted as a practical guide to designing counter-terrorism measures into new developments. There are also other initiatives that promote safe places through good design, including Building for Life and Secured by Design.

13.7 Regional Planning Policy requires local planning authorities to promote the creation of high quality built environments, with particular attention given to creating safer environments which discourage crime and promote community safety.

What are the Options?

13.8 The Core Strategy must include policies to promote and deliver community safety through the design and location of new development. It is, however, a strategic document and it is not its role to set out detailed policies, for example on how design can be used to reduce crime and antisocial behaviour in new developments. This guidance would be more appropriately set out within a Supplementary Planning Document. Furthermore, it is not the role of the Core Strategy to set out policies or designations to control the nature and location of new development in specific areas where there are crime or antisocial behaviour problems, for example town or district centres. This would be more appropriately undertaken at the local level, working with communities, through the development of area action plan or supplementary planning documents for that specific area of the District.

13.9 The only option for the Core Strategy is therefore to incorporate a strategic policy dealing with community safety which sets a framework for subsequent more detailed work to be undertaken by the Council, its partners, and the local community to reduce the potential for crime and antisocial behaviour through high quality design and controlling the nature and location of development in problem areas. This is therefore the Council's preferred option.

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