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The Strategic Regional Policy Plan

Introduction

Download the Strategic Regional Policy Plan

The Strategic Regional Policy Plan (SRPP) was adopted in 1995 and is codified in Rule 29K-5002, Florida Administrative Code. The SRPP is designed to provide a holistic, comprehensive approach to building a region—from the identification and organization of its largest physical environmental features down to the arrangement of the block, street, and buildings of the smallest increment of built environment. The SRPP criticizes recent forms and patterns of development for being to homogenous and disconnected to support the organization of larger, more efficient, and sustainable patterns of development (i.e., towns, cities, and villages). The SRPP is based on the principles of New Urbanism and Smart Growth

The SRPP is intended as a well-illustrated manual or guidebook for building a better region. There are illustrations and policy guidance contained in the SRPP for how local governments can respond to the plan. The source of all these images and the motivation for the plan were generated from the nearly fifty public planning charrettes of all shapes, sizes, and contexts held in and around the Region since 1989.

The SRPP uses New Urbanism and Smart Growth principles to overcome the weaknesses of Florida's current growth management system and provide precise instructions for improving settlement patterns; protecting the countryside; and building authentic towns, cities and villages. The SRPP puts forth the following thesis:

1. If sustainable areas of the countryside were recognized and identified within the Region to remain free of urbanization and connected by natural or authentic rural corridors
  2. If the vast majority of people live within appropriately located villages, towns, or cities made up of clearly defined neighborhoods and special districts
  3. If the neighborhood is viewed as the basis and most important unit of planning and community organization (i.e., the standard incremental unit of growth)
  4. If neighborhoods are viewed and designed (and where necessary retrofitted) as compact, largely self-contained, pedestrian pockets and generally include the following characteristics:
   
a) recognizable centers and edges
  b) a size of between 40 and 160 acres
  c) a finely woven network of interconnected streets detailed for pedestrian use as well as automobiles
  d) a sufficiently diverse mixture of housing types and affordabilities to accommodate the full range of people needed to build and maintain a complete and real community
  e) a balance of employment and housing opportunities
  f) adequate provision of public and civic uses (e.g., green squares, houses of worship, town buildings, etc.)
  5. If neighborhood schools were the rule for children under age 14 and were viewed as an essential and central organizing feature of communities
  6. If sufficient attention were paid to beauty, architecture, and urban design to allow for compact, self-contained mixed-use neighborhoods and to assure that people might come to love their neighborhood, and grow roots
  7. If one could live a reasonably good life without the absolute necessity and burden of automobile use and ownership, (which would help to make housing more affordable)

Then, by default most, if not all, of Florida's and the Region's growth management objectives could be achieved.

The SRPP contains a Future of the Region or Vision Element. This element comprehensively deals with improving the large-scale structure or pattern of the Region's physical, economic, and social environment; the growth and formation of towns, cities, and villages; the maintenance of the natural environment and countryside; the layout of regional roads; the relationship between work and households; the formation of suitable public institutions for a neighborhood and community; and the kinds of public space required to support these institutions. The Future of the Region Element describes preferred forms and patterns of development that are considered the most effective means of fulfilling the “vision.

The Plan contains six other elements which are directly wired to the Future of the Region Element and include goals, strategies, and policies designed to support and help accomplish the vision. These elements are Affordable Housing, Economic Development, Education, Emergency Preparedness, Natural Resources of Regional Significance, and Regional Transportation.

Briefly stated the SRPP describes the vision for the future of the Region as follows:

Future growth should follow a preferred development form. Preferred development should address the following regional issues:
 
1. preservation of the natural environment and countryside
  2. revitalization of existing urban areas
  3. creation of new towns, cities, and villages
   
  Future development should not sprawl because it is expensive and it degrades the Region’s quality of life.
   
  Preferred development concepts will be implemented by regional strategies that:
 
1. state the preferred form of development
  2. suggest incentives to encourage and foster preferred forms of development.
   
  In addition, implementation will depend on county and municipal strategies that:
 
1. delineate where new development should or should not occur
  2. apply and expand the preferred form of development concepts
  3. encourage redevelopment and revitalization
  4. devise public investment programs favoring development of preferred forms and patterns of development
  5. send constructive economic signals to investors
  6. change local plans and codes to level the playing field for investors and render the choice between building the new urbanism and sprawl one of market and not regulation

The vision, as stated, suggests the Region is ready to set standards that reach beyond the provision of basic services and proposes the creation of complete, authentic communities. The SRPP recognizes that the vision can never be implemented or built overnight. It will take patient piecemeal growth designed in such a way that every planning decision sanctioned by local government is always helping to create or generate preferred patterns and forms of development on a small and large scales. This should, slowly and surely over the years, result in a Region that contains preferred patterns of development. The end result is intended to achieve a more sustainable future for the Region.

That in 1995, a group of 53 local governments in a sprawl-friendly state like Florida would adopt such a forward-thinking plan is quite remarkable. Even more so, it remains the benchmark by which all regional plans in Florida are judged.