Two councils in areas of high housing demand have had their local plans rejected for failing to co-operate with neighbours to find sites for new homes, leading in one case to legal action.
The cases highlight the difficulty of finding sites in the Home Counties for the housebuilding the government is expected to encourage in its imminent housing white paper.
St Albans City DC is seeking a judicial review of communities secretary Sajid Javid’s refusal to endorse its local plan - after one of his planning inspectors rejected it -, while Castle Point BC is considering its position after a planning inspector found it failed to co-operate with adjacent councils on housing land.
Julian Daly (Con), leader of St Albans, said: “The council believes the inspector’s conclusion that we did not meet the duty to co-operate is flawed. We are therefore seeking a judicial review.”
A spokesperson for neighbouring Welwyn Hatfield BC said: “We raised duty to co-operate objections and concerns in our response to the St Albans consultation around the plan’s proposed housing numbers and the impact that could have in Welwyn Hatfield, mainly the potential for increased pressure on our borough to accommodate the shortfall.”
Hertsmere BC’s portfolio holder for planning and localism Harvey Cohen (Con) said he and “a number of other neighbouring authorities” would meet St Albans for talks.
Castle Point’s plan was turned down for proposing only 107 new homes a year over 2011-31, which the council recognised “does not represent objectively assessed need, but reflects the capacity of the borough to accommodate growth”.
Chief executive David Marchant said: “The council takes the view that protecting the green belt is more important than providing new housing and wanted this principle to be tested in public by an inspector.
“Castle Point came to the view that on balance it was impossible to meet objectively assessed housing needs in full without serious harm to interests of acknowledged importance, notably the established open areas of green belt in the borough.”
Neighbours Southend-on-Sea and Basildon BCs are among councils that have objected to this.
The Planning Inspectorate declined to comment.