03 August 2015, After a number of recent press reports suggesting that the Government was poised to introduce measures to address ‘tardy’ local plan-making, the Written Ministerial Statement issued by Brandon Lewis on Wednesday (22 July 2015) was eagerly awaited.
In his Statement, the Minister confirms that where no Local Plan has been ‘produced’ by early 2017 then the Government will intervene and arrange for the Plan to be written, in consultation with local people, to accelerate its production.
He also proposes to strengthen guidance to improve the Duty to Cooperate, reinforcing that local authorities cannot plan in isolation.
<>He emphasises the role that the Planning Inspectorate can play in helping to expedite Local Plans through the examination process. This includes highlighting significant issues at an early stage so councils have an opportunity to respond and reinforcing the opportunity to commit to an early Local Plan review.
At the same time the Secretary of State, Greg Clark MP, has written to the Chief Executive of the Planning Inspectorate (PINS) emphasising these same points and encouraging pragmatism and flexibility. Expect updated procedural guidance from PINS soon.
Clare O’Hanlon, Associate in our Oxford office, comments;
“The commitment to try and speed up local plan-making is welcomed, at a time when only 64% of authorities have adopted Plans in place. Where adopted, NPPF compliant, and up-to-date local plans are not in place there is little certainty for local communities, developers or landowners as well as delays in decision-making and recourse to time consuming and costly appeals; this does little to help deliver the Government’s housing agenda and economic plan.
So far there is little detail on how, and what, the proposed intervention will entail, including what the Government means by authorities having ‘produced’ a Plan, or indeed by ‘in consultation with local people’. Whether the measures will act as a real incentive for authorities to speed up plan-making and produce a robust and sound Plan remains to be seen.”