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Ministry to intervene in three councils' local plans

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The government’s chief planner and a team of experts are to be sent into three councils as part of an intervention over their lack of a local plan.

Housing and communities secretary Sajid Javid wrote to 15 local authorities with his decision, instructing Castlepoint BC, Thanet DC, and Wirral MBC that experts led by Steve Quartermain will be sent to work with their officials with a view to possibly getting Essex CC, Kent CC, and Liverpool City Region CA respectively to produce a local plan on their behalf. 

In a series of letters Mr Javid told the three councils he was writing with regards their “persistent failure” to produce a local plan.

Mr Javid warned in November that 15 councils had “particular cause for concern” due to “deadlines being missed, promises being broken” and “unacceptably slow” progress had been made on adopting local plans.

The three letters referenced the priority cases for intervention set out in the government’s housing white paper, which include areas of “higher housing pressure”, where intervention would have the “greatest impact in accelerating” production.

Local authorityProceeding with intervention?

Castle Point BC

Yes

Wirral MBC

Yes

Thanet DC

Yes

Northumberland CC

No

St Albans City & DC

No

Brentwood BC

No

Mansfield DC

No

Calderdale MBC

No

Eastleigh BC

No

Basildon BC

No

Bolsover DC

No

North East Derbyshire DC

No

City of York Council

No

Runnymede BC

No

Liverpool City Council

No

In his letter to Wirral MBC, Mr Javid said he believed plan production could be accelerated, despite there being no apparent pressure on housing. Mr Javid added there was “currently no justification for the length of time your council are proposing to take on further evidence gathering”.

Other priorities for the government include where authorities have made ”the least progress in plan-making” or where policies in plans have not been kept up to date.

Mr Javid referenced these two issues in particular in his letter to Thanet DC where the council had “failed to make progress on planmaking,” while its policies “do not appear to be up to date” in an area of high housing pressure. Thanet DC was taken over by a minority Conservative administration earlier this month, after the Ukip group failed to agree a local plan and split over the future over the former Manston airport site. The council said the Manston Airport was the main reason for the delay in a letter to Mr Javid on January 31.

Castle Point BC also received criticism for failing to make progress on plan-making in an area of high housing pressure, while Mr Javid rejected the council’s claims of extenuating issues.

Mr Javid wrote: “I note the exceptional circumstances given by your council are that it is constrained by green belt, that the previous plan should not have been found unsound and that you are pursuing a joint plan in south Essex. These do not appear to be exceptional circumstances.

“Green belt challenges are not unique to Castle Point; I have not seen any convincing evidence as to why I should dispute the inspector’s decision to find the previous plan unsound.”

 

 

 

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Readers' comments (1)

  • I wonder what the other councils did to avoid interventions. York had been singled out for having never had a local plan or similar since the 1950s.

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