Communities secretary Savid Javid has said 15 councils in England, including Liverpool and Wirral, have “failed to make progress” on their Local Plans and threatened Government intervention to force plans forward.
In a speech yesterday, Javid said the councils had “failed to meet deadlines” since the Local Plan Act was set out in 2004, and criticised authorities for a lack of progress on preparing a Local Plan.
The 15 local authorities including Liverpool and Wirral have been given written notice that the Government has begun the formal process of intervention, as set out in its Housing White Paper published in February this year.
The White Paper said the Government would “prioritise intervention” where the least progress has been made in plan-making, and where policies have not been kept up to date.
Javid’s speech in Bristol reflected the Government’s increased focus on upping housing delivery figures, which has hardened to a more direct approach since the publication of the White Paper this year.
Javid said: “We have identified three systemic problems: not enough local authorities planning for the homes they need; house building that is simply too slow; and a construction industry that is too reliant on a small number of big players.
“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 added that the local authorities will be asked to “put forward exceptional circumstances which justify their failure to product a local plan under the 2004 Act regime” before 31 January 2018.
“I will take responses received into account before any final decisions on intervention are taken.
“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.”
The 15 local authorities which are subject to the formal process of intervention are: Basildon, Brentwood, Bolsover, Calderdale, Castle Point, Eastleigh, Liverpool, Mansfield, North East Derbyshire, Northumberland, Runnymede, St Albans, Thanet, Wirral, and York.
Reflecting on Javid’s comments, Dan Mitchell, partner at Barton Willmore, said: “In singling out Wirral and Liverpool Councils the Government is flagging up the need for full Local Plan coverage in the North West.
“Many other local authorities are also still some way off from having an up to date plan. However, it’s too easy for Government to criticise councils for slow Local Plan progress.
“The reality is that the planning system as a whole is severely under resourced. Plus, regular changes to national policy and guidance mean that preparing Local Plans can be extremely challenging.”
- Read Sajid Javid’s letter in full here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/local-plan-intervention-secretary-of-state-letter-to-15-local-authorities