London mayor and combined authorities to get powers to take over local plan preparation

The London mayor and combined authorities could be handed powers to take over the preparation of local plans from local planning authorities in their areas should they fail to bring one forward, under a government amendment to the Housing and Planning Bill.

Houses of Parliament: amendment to bill tabled by housing and planning minister (picture by DncnH, Flickr)
Houses of Parliament: amendment to bill tabled by housing and planning minister (picture by DncnH, Flickr)

The amendment to the bill, tabled by housing and planning minister Brandon Lewis, makes provision "for the secretary of state to invite the mayor of London or a combined authority to prepare or revise a development plan document for a local planning authority in their area that is failing to progress the document".

The Housing and Planning Bill, currently at the committee stage in the House of Commons, proposes enhanced powers for the communities secretary in plan preparation and examination, including powers to order councils to submit plans to examination and publish inspector reports, as well as powers to direct planning inspectors to suspend examinations and consider specified matters.

A new schedule moved by the minister, to be inserted in the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004, explains that, if the secretary of state "thinks that a London borough … is failing or omitting to do anything it is necessary for them to do in connection with the preparation, revision or adoption of a development plan document", and invites the mayor to prepare or revise the document, "the mayor of London may prepare or revise (as the case may be) the development plan document".

The draft schedule says that the same powers would be extended to combined authorities established under the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009.

It makes clear that the secretary of state would retain powers to direct the modification of documents prepared by the London mayor or combined authorities, should the secretary of state think that such documents were "unsatisfactory".

The draft schedule also includes provision for a temporary direction pending the possible use of intervention powers.

It says that, if the secretary of state is considering intervening to direct the modification of local plans prepared by the mayor of London or a combined authority, "he may direct the mayor or the authority not to take any step in connection with the adoption or approval of the document … until the time (if any) specified in the direction, or until the direction is withdrawn".


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