Government gives 15 councils deadline to explain failure to produce local plans

Some 15 councils in England have until the end of January to explain why they have not yet produced a local plan setting out their timetable to meet their residents’ needs for new homes.

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid has written to the local authorities asking them to outline any exceptional circumstances that justify their failure to publish a plan and giving them a deadline of 31 January 2018 to explain themselves or face intervention.

‘In addition to this explanation, I would like to hear of any measures that the authority has taken, or intends to take, to accelerate plan publication,’ the letter adds.

Javid points out that local planning authorities are required to publish a Local Development Scheme (LDS) which sets out when an authority expects to reach key milestones in the plan making process, and the timetable for producing documents to maintain an up to date plan.

‘In the 13 years that have passed since the 2004 Act was introduced your Council has failed to meet the deadlines set out in that timetable. The February 2017 Housing White Paper set out that we will prioritise intervention,’ the letter continues.

The White Paper allows for intervention where the least progress in plan making has been made, where policies in plans had not been kept up to date, where there was higher housing pressure and where intervention would have the greatest impact in accelerating Local Plan production.

‘My decisions on intervention will also be informed by the wider planning context in each area, specifically, the extent to which authorities are working cooperatively to put strategic plans in place, and the potential impact that not having a plan has on neighbourhood planning activity,’ the letter adds.

Javid also points out that not building enough homes is one of three systemic problems with the current housing system along with construction being too slow. ‘Up to date plans, including local plans are essential because they provide clarity to communities and developers about where homes should be built and where not, so that development is planned rather than the result of speculative applications. At present too few places have an up to date plan,’ he explained.

The councils involved are Basildon, Brentwood, Bolsover, Calderdale, Castle Point, Eastleigh, Liverpool, Mansfield, North East Derbyshire, Northumberland, Runnymede, St Albans, Thanet, Wirral and York.


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