Slowcoach planners face government action

by Gary Whittaker

The government has revealed what steps it is taking to deal with 15 local authorities in England that have been dragging their feet over producing  plans for housing in their area.

Local plans are designed to be devised at a local level as an alternative to 'top-down' planning, and it is through this system that councils have the opportunity to plan the supply of housing according to the specific needs of their areas. 

These plans will be of interest to landlords and letting agents as they would include details of what role the construction of properties on a build-to-rent basis will play. 

However, neither this - nor any other details - had been forthcoming in the case of 15 councils by last November, prompting housing secretary Sajid Javid to announce his plans to intervene. The 15 authorities were given until the end of January to explain why they had not produced their plans. 

The response has been mixed. Four authorities - Liverpool, North East Derbyshire, Runnymede and York - have now produced their local plans, while Basildon, Bolsover, Brentwood, Calderdale, Eastleigh, Mansfield and St Albans have all pledged to produce them by September. 

Mr Javid has welcomed the progress that has been prompted by his earlier warning, but added that any further delays could lead to direct intervention still taking place. 

This may well occur in Northumberland, if it does not take steps to improve its plan. The county council has been told to produce this sooner and make details of its delivery timetables clearer. 

In the meantime, the government's chief planner and his team of experts is assessing whether direct intervention is needed in the cases of Castle Point, Thanet and Wirral.

Mr Javid commented: "Whilst most councils rightly recognise their responsibilities and most have worked hard to meet the housing challenge, some have failed.

"I expect those authorities we identified in November to continue to make progress. I’m also stepping it up with three councils in particular, sending in a team of experts to make a direct assessment, ensuring they plan properly for the future or we’ll have to do it for them."

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26-March-18Legal News