Local Plan Intervention – Sajid Javid Steps in Over Local Plan Failures
Communities Secretary Sajid Javid has said the Government is prepared to take direct action and intervene in the Local Plan process at 15 local authorities across England in an effort to tackle the “broken” housing market.
Putting authorities “on notice” and cautioning that an absence of sufficient progress will “no longer be tolerated” by DCLG, Mr Javid said the 15 local authorities had until 31st January 2018 to put forward any exceptional circumstances that, ‘in their view, justify their failure to produce a Local Plan under the 2014 Act Regime’.
In a written statement to the Commons, Mr Javid said that some local authorities have not done enough to progress with preparing a Local Plan;
“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.”
The 15 local planning authorities that have failed in their duty to cooperate and in producing an up-to-date Local Plan are Basildon, Brentwood, Bolsover, Calderdale, Castle Point, Eastleigh, Liverpool, Mansfield, North East Derbyshire, Northumberland, Runnymede, St Albans, Thanet, Wirral and York.
A warning was also issued to authorities beyond the 15 identified above, “The remaining authorities who are not making progress on their plan-making and fail to publish a plan for consultation, submit a plan to examination or to keep policies in plans up to date are on notice that consistent failure to make sufficient progress will no longer be tolerated. My Department will begin formally considering the case for intervention as deadlines are missed.”
Shadow housing Minister, John Healey, responded to the statement, highlighting the delay in delivering action promised some years ago; “Two years ago the Government promised action on local plans by ‘early 2017’. Today the Communities Secretary has revealed any Government response will be delayed until January 2018 at the earliest.”
Mr Healey continued; “The truth is it’s ministers’ chop and change planning policies that are causing these delays in the plan-making process, as their own expert advisers have shown.”
“Rather than trying to shift blame on to local councils, ministers should take responsibility for their own record and back Labour’s plan to tackle the housing crisis.”
The intervention followed the release of figures that showed that 217,350 homes were built in 2016/2017, an increase of 15% on the previous year.
This figure represents the highest number of “net additional dwellings” built since the financial crisis, but still fell short of the 250,000 housing charity Shelter claims are needed each year to tackle the shortage in England and indeed significantly below the 300,000 dwellings a year target set out by Chancellor Phillip Hammond in his 2017 Budget.
The Prime Minister however stated that she was “pleased” with the figures but acknowledged “there’s more we can do” as she discussed the housing crisis on a London visit;
“The Government is clear, we want more people to have the security of a roof over their head, their own home for themselves and their family,” she said. “What I want to see though is, we know there are lots of planning permissions out there, I want to see the houses being built.”