Securing long-term stewardship through the Development Plan

This briefing note forms part of the TCPA’s online toolkit for long-term stewardship. The toolkit is primarily aimed at local authorities planning for and delivering stewardship on new communities’ sites. However, the majority of evidence and learning is applicable to planning for stewardship at a range of development scales and contexts.

About this briefing note and how to use it

This note seeks to provide councils with an indication of the factors that might be considered when drafting local plan policy on stewardship. Using a review of a selection of adopted and draft local plan policy on long-term stewardship, it sets out an evidence-based analysis of those elements that have successfully passed through examination, and reflects on points included in draft or emerging policy. The tables in Appendix 1 provide a reference resource to assist in policy development.

The TCPA is aware that there may be other adopted policies on stewardship not covered in this review. We hope to keep the accompanying tables as a ‘live’ resource. If you are aware of adopted policy that should be added, or that has emerged since this note was published, please contact:


National planning policy in England requires local authorities planning for large scale development to set clear expectations for the quality of the development and how this can be maintained (such as by following Garden City principles).

Setting out expectations and requirements for long-term stewardship on a development site or across a whole authority in planning policy, is one of the strongest tools councils currently have available to ensure development is not only delivered to a high quality, but will be maintained as such in the long-term.

Setting clear and ambitious – but realistic – expectations in policy, along with flexibility to encourage effective implementation, can help councils, developers and communities plan for effective long-term stewardship from the outset. When considered at this early stage, expectations can be accounted for in viability assessments and the pricing of land. While stewardship requirements will vary from place to place, there are practical adopted and emerging examples of development plan policy, from which high-level principles for policy development can be drawn.

It is possible to reference long-term stewardship in any Development Plan Document. This includes Strategic Plans, Local Plans and Supplementary Planning Documents. It also includes Neighbourhood Plans and Design Codes. Changes to the development plan system proposed through the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill should not deter councils from progressing policy on stewardship, as this can be incorporated in new Local Plans and be in place during the transition period.

Development plan review and analysis

The TCPA New Communities Group (NCG) is a network of local authorities planning and delivering large-scale development. The projects represent a range of scales, stages of development, and development contexts. Many have committed to long-term stewardship in their authority areas or development sites. Several have also drafted or adopted policies on stewardship in their Local Plan, other development plan documents and/or any supplementary planning documents.

A high-level review of the adopted and draft Local Plans and other DPDs relevant to the NCG was undertaken in October-December 2022. The review used a ‘key word’ search to identify relevant policies related to long-term stewardship. Milton Keynes Council was not a member of the Group at the time of the review, but its policy has been included due to its specific work on long-term stewardship in policy. The policies identified have been included in a series of tables in Appendix 1. Analysis has sought to focus primarily on adopted policy as this has passed through the examination process. However draft policy has also been referenced where relevant. 

Thirty-one Local Plans were searched, along with a selection of other relevant DPDs and SPDs where their content was identified as relevant.   

Key aspects identified in adopted development plan documents

The review highlighted a number of common propositions or terms that were included in adopted DPDs. They fall into the themes outlined in Table 1, below. Many of these themes were also identified in draft Local Plan DPDs and adopted SPDs.

Table 1: Summary of key aspects in adopted stewardship policy 

Theme DetailsAuthorities with adopted policies on this theme
Council commitment to action on stewardship  Commitment by the Council to develop stewardship strategy Carlisle District Local Plan 2015-2030  
Preference for community
stewardship models
Council support for Community stewardship modelsSpecify that community
models of
governance will
be supported
Ashford Local Plan 2030
Stewardship Strategy requirementRequirements for stewardship strategies in new community areas Dacorum Strategic Design Guide Part 2: Design Principles SPD – February 2021

Ashford Chilmington Green AAP (2013)

Ashford Local Plan 2030

Vale of Aylesbury Local Plan 2013-2033    
StakeholdersIndicators of stakeholders to engage in the stewardship strategySets out who the
stewardship strategy
should be agreed with
MK Plan 2016 – 2031

Harlow Local Development Plan
Scope of stewardship strategySpecific requirements of what a strategy should cover, including:    1.Stewardship
3.Community development
4.Links to public participation 5.Governance 6.Funding models
Vale of Aylesbury Local Plan 2013-2033

Ashford Chilmington Green AAP (2013)

Harlow Local Development Plan

South Kesteven District Council
Local Plan 2011- 2036

Brentwood Local Plan 2016-2033

Harlow Local Development Plan

MK Plan 2016 – 2031

St Cuthbert’s Strategic Design SPD (Adopted April 2021)

Brentwood Local Plan 2016-2033

North Essex Authorities’ Shared Strategic Section 1 Plan
Conditions for use of private management companiesSets parameters for scope and quality where private Management Companies are usedSets parameters
of quality and provision where a private management model is promoted, and in supporting text that it should only be the case where community stewardship model
is not considered possible
Ashford Local Plan 2030  
Paying for stewardshipOutlines expectations in relation to developer contributions to pay for stewardship Chilmington Green AAP (2013) 

MK Plan 2016 – 2031
Ownership of assetsExpectations around transfer of ownership and assets to a stewardship body East Herts District Plan adopted October 2018

MK Plan 2016 – 2031

South Oxfordshire local plan 2011-2035
Garden City PrinciplesGeneral commitment to the Garden City Principles (or Garden Village Principles) on the site Chelmsford Local Plan

South Kesteven District Council
Local Plan 2011- 2036

South Oxfordshire local plan 2011-2035

Ebbsfleet Implementation Framework – 2018

References to stewardship in development plans  

Of the 31 adopted and draft Local Plans which were reviewed, 16 adopted local plans make clear reference to long-term stewardship (either through direct reference, reference to Garden City principles, or through mention of terms such as long-term maintenance and management).

Of the 15 authorities whose adopted Local Plans did not reference long-term stewardship, six had draft Local Plans which referred to stewardship, and six had other Development Plan Documents which referred to long-term stewardship.

Strategic Policy covering a whole local plan area

Most of the DPDs which referenced stewardship do so in policies specifically for the creation of new communities or garden villages, however some such as Milton Keynes, Ashford, Carlisle and Brentwood, mention stewardship in policy relating to the entire local plan area.

For example, Carlisle District Council’s local plan states that

“the Council will, through planning decisions and in fulfilling its wider functions, work with partners to develop a holistic approach to the protection and stewardship of the District’s green and blue infrastructure through a comprehensive and connected policy approach”

Strategic policies will need to set out which facilities will be delivered and how they will be managed and by whom, for each development. The Plan MK for Milton Keynes’ policy also states that developments should have strategies for the long-term care of open space across strategic land allocations, as part of a holistic approach to stewardship of public space. Policies for the delivery of community spaces in Ashford Borough Council’s local plan, covering the whole local plan area, require them to have a governance strategy, setting out when and how they will be managed long-term, with the council favouring proposals that adopt a community stewardship model. Brentwood Borough Council local plan includes strategic policy for the creation of successful places, stating that proposals for cultural entertainment and leisure, are required to provide evidence of management and stewardship arrangements, so as not to harm the surrounding areas or disturb residents.

Site or project specific stewardship policies

The majority of adopted and draft policies found in relation to long-term stewardship referred to a specific site allocation or development proposal. All site or project specific policies included reference to greenspace or green infrastructure. The extent to which other community facilities and assets were listed varied. Together the policies and supporting text refer to a number of themes including those outlined in Table 1:

  • Council commitment to action on stewardship 
  • Preference for community stewardship models
  • Stewardship Strategy requirement
  • Which stakeholder to engage with
  • Scope of stewardship strategy:
    • Stewardship
    • Maintenance
    • Community development
    • Links to public participation
    • Governance
    • Funding models
  • Conditions for use of private management companies
  • Paying for stewardship – including finance/developer contributions
  • Ownership of assets
  • Garden City Principles

References to Garden City Principles in policy

‘Community ownership of land and long-term stewardship of assets’ is one of the Garden City Principles. Policies and plans which require or support the adoption of Garden City Principles are therefore requiring long-term stewardship of a site or area.

‘24 of the adopted and draft Local Plans and Development Plan Documents TCPA reviewed included reference to Garden City or Garden Village Principles in either their policies or supporting text. Four of these were within adopted policy text’ .

24 of the adopted and draft Local Plans and Development Plan Documents that were reviewed included reference to Garden City or Garden Village Principles in either their policies or supporting text in either their policies or supporting text. Of these, 4 directly reference the TCPA’s Garden City/Village Principles in their local plan policy (South Oxfordshire, Wokingham, Chelmsford and Harlow). South Kesteven refers to ‘garden village principles’ which may be those set out in ‘Understanding Garden Villages’. which also include stewardship. South Oxfordshire local plan also refers to the TCPA garden village principles. South Kesteven policy includes a requirement for proposals to include the long-term stewardship of assets with a governance and financial management model, as well as providing policy for exemplary design standards and management of community facilities. In particular, there is reference to ensuring developments provide and maintain open space and green and blue infrastructure. For example, South Oxfordshire District Council, specify that all development within Berinfield Garden Village, ‘will meet the Garden City Principles set out by the TCPA’, by providing:

“a cared for garden village of attractive built and natural environments, healthy and accessible nurseries and classrooms with residents involved in managing space and facilities

This means the new community will need to be developed with a stewardship model in place, providing a delivery mechanism from the outset, to provide for the long-term management and maintenance of the facilities proposed. This is also identified in Chelmsford City Council’s local plan, in reference to a new sustainable garden community, for which development proposals must accord with a masterplan, that needs to be underpinned by Garden City Principles:

“Due to the nature and configuration of the site with areas subject to mineral extraction affecting its phasing and other masterplanning matters such as the location of green infrastructure, the wider site is being allocated within the Local Plan for 3,000 new homes. This development will be underpinned by Garden City principles developed by the Town and Country Planning Association (e.g. comprehensively planned, enhance the natural environment and provide high quality homes).” Supporting Text, Growth Area 2 6.40, Chelmsford Local Plan, p.61

Securing developer contributions through policy

Several of the DPDs reviewed set out policy outlining where financial contributions must be secured from the developer towards stewardship arrangements, and the maintenance of these facilities for a fixed amount of time. For example, Harlow Council’s local development plan states that:

“prior to the submission of outline planning applications, developers must submit a supporting statement setting out a sustainable long-term governance and stewardship arrangement for the community assets, including heritage assets, Green Infrastructure, the public realm, community facilities and other relevant facilities to be funded by the developer; Developers will be expected to make a fair and reasonable contribution to the strategic highway and other infrastructure requirements set out in the Infrastructure Delivery Plan”Policy 2.c, Harlow Local Development Plan, Harlow Council, p.42.

Similarly, Chelmsford City Council’s local plan policy states in reference to the Strategic growth site: North East Chelmsford, that it requires development proposals to accord with the masterplan by providing financial provision or contribution towards healthcare provision, car-club facilities and enhanced sport and recreation facilities.

Supplementary Planning Documents

Supplementary Planning Documents (SPDs) are non-statutory documents and add further detail to the policies in a Local Plan. They can be used to provide further guidance for development on specific sites, or on particular issues, such as design. Common SPDs for new community sites include Area Action Plans (AAPs), Design Guides/Design Codes. In Milton Keynes, Milton Keynes Council included policy on long-term stewardship in their Planning Obligation SPD:

Developers are required to include a management and maintenance strategy for all new or extended open space and green infrastructure, which shall include details of the proposed ownership of the open space/green infrastructure; the identity of the responsible maintenance (stewardship) body (e.g. the MK Parks Trust; a local council, etc.), financial and public accountability, and a suitable and sustainable financial arrangement to enable the stewardship body to maintain the open space and green infrastructure to the required standard in perpetuity’ Public Open Space, Leisure and Recreation Obligations,

Para 10.12, Planning Obligations SPD, p.25.

‘The expectation is that the financial arrangement for private communal space should take the form of an endowment or commuted sum paid to the management body, rather than a service charge to be levied on specific properties each year in perpetuity. In the case of strategic open space, including public open space, play areas and green infrastructure, it is MK Council’s clear preference to sustain the proven MK approach’. Para 10.13

The Chilmington Green Area Action Plan (Ashford Borough Council, 2013) sets out clear expectations in relation to stewardship in its policies and supporting text:

“The delivery strategy (as set out under Chapter 11) for development at Chilmington Green and subsequent planning applications will therefore need to:

Establish a community-based Trust or similar community management vehicle with the capacity to take on the management and development of an agreed range of facilities and open spaces at Chilmington Green;” Vision, para 3:10

Design Codes

Design Codes will become key documents in the decision-making process. Lifespan is identified one of the key characteristics of a well-designed place. Part 2 of the National Model Design Code states that Local design codes should consider the following under the theme of ‘lifespan’/stewardship:

• ‘A stewardship plan and when it will be required
• Guidance on adoption of public areas
• Levels of community engagement expected prior to a planning application.
• Guidance on facilitating community management.’

Many councils already have design codes, guides or documents in Place. In those documents reviewed, Councils tended to be far more ambitious in local design codes for new community sites. Of the 52 SPDs reviewed, four included reference to stewardship in published design guidance documents. In particular, of the four design guides that mention stewardship, two of them focus on including the community in the design and management of infrastructure. The Essex Design Guide focuses more on the stewardship of green infrastructure, rather than other assets, but identifies specifically how councils can form opportunities for community participation in the management and maintenance of infrastructure, if stewardship arrangements are considered in the early stages of stakeholder engagement and plan proposals. The Dacorum Strategic Design Guide Part 2 – Design Principles SPD, highlights that the original Garden Cities illustrate how to do stewardship successfully, emphasising that designs should demonstrate:

mechanisms to allow community involvement in decisions affecting the maintenance and management of community assets”. 10.2 Be Proactive with Stewardship, 10.2.2, Dacorum Strategic Design Guide Part 2: Design Principles, p.32.

In line with the National Model Design Code, Chilmington Green Design Code states the importance of having set out a finance plan for the maintenance and management of assets at an early stage. It also emphasises that “a suitable body” needs to be formed and the approach of which should develop through the design process. This is also the case in Waverley Council’s Dunsfold Park Garden Village SPD Design Code document, which states that a non-profit community trust should be established at the application stages and with a funding scheme in place. As well as anticipating that this trust would be key in promoting community engagement and the governance of the new settlement. Both the Chilmington Green and Dacorum’s design codes directly reference the TCPA’s Garden City Principles.

Other material considerations

Other documents reviewed such as masterplans and vision statements can provide opportunities to advise on stewardship strategies. An example of this is in  Dacorum Borough Council’s  Hemel Garden Communities – A Spatial Vision 2020 – 2021, where it explains how the building of “local-level community infrastructure” p.28, will give communities the opportunity to take ownership over long-term stewardship of the local assets. Blaby District Council’s, Whetstone Pastures Garden Village Vision Document, holds an entire page on Long-term stewardship for the Garden Village including details on the process intended to establish a stewardship body, to manage the community assets, including open space, community buildings, leisure facilities, allotments and more. It addresses funding, with a strategy to identify funding opportunities for the maintenance of community buildings and land in perpetuity, and that profits made from these assets are reinvested back into the community. Another aspect identified is communication with residents, that they will be kept informed of what is happening in the community and of opportunities to be involved in decision making, through the use of a website or employment of a community officer role. Bath and Somerset Council’s, North Keynsham Strategic Planning Framework, includes guidance on maintaining the quality of community facilities and green infrastructure, through the council preparing a neighbourhood management plan, “to cover all open spaces and public buildings and cite all management objectives with the aim of establishing medium- and long-term objectives and arrangements”. It will address the need for a governance structure through having a management trust/company as well as generating revenue, through service charges, which the developer is subsiding this is in the early stages.

Neighbourhood Plans

Neighbourhood plans provide the opportunity for neighbourhood forums to influence how their area is planned and managed. The Gilston Area Neighbourhood Plan includes requirements on developers and landowners making arrangements for the long-term stewardship of “greenspaces, parklands, leisure and community facilities, potentially including schools, health centres etc”, as well as including residents in the governance structures of these arrangements. In particular, policy committing “to the principle of land value capture and the funding and delivery of services and infrastructure needed to support the Gilston Area, with long-term community stewardship of community assets and land. New infrastructure will be phased to mitigate the impacts of the development on existing and new communities.” As mentioned in the TCPA’s Heart of the Matter Emerging Lessons in Long-term Stewardship report, often parish councils can feel overshadowed by the establishment of stewardship bodies/management companies, however this was not the case for Gilston, where the parish council upskilled themselves in order to produce a Neighbourhood Plan and included stewardship policies.

Model Policies

Informed by a review of existing adopted and draft policy on stewardship, this section provides some high-level indicative model policies to aid policy development in your authority. This has focused, where possible on adopted policy that has already been successfully tested at Examination.

These model policies focus on those aspects of policy that relate to securing long-term stewardship. Advice on policy in relation to a range of issues related to large scale development is available in the TCPA practical guides on new communities, and in related guidance on 20-minute neighbourhoods and Healthy Homes.

Where to include stewardship policy in your development plan?

Coming soon

Strategic Local Plan policies on stewardship

Coming soon

Stewardship policy for a specific site or development proposal

Coming soon

Appendix 1

This resource was produced by Rebecca Lambert and Katy Lock, TCPA.

This resource was supported by: