Strategic authority default plan-making powers: Update 16 June 2016

Section 147 and schedule 11 pave the way for the mayor of London and combined authorities to prepare or update development plan documents (DPDs) for any council within their area.

These powers, added during the bill’s parliamentary passage, would apply where the secretary of state thinks individual councils are "failing or omitting to do anything it is necessary for them to do in connection with the preparation, revision or adoption of a DPD". The mayor or combined authority would then be invited to take over preparation or revision of the document, organise its examination, and either approve it themselves or direct the council to consider adopting it

The act allows the secretary of state to direct modifications if he thinks a DPD prepared or revised by the mayor or a combined authority is unsatisfactory, to call in all or part of a DPD at any time up to the point of adoption or approval, to order withdrawal of the DPD, and to issue a holding direction preventing the mayor or combined authority taking further steps towards adoption while he considers whether to intervene further.

Schedule 11 prescribes that the mayor or the combined authority must hold an independent examination and publish examiners’ recommendations and reasons. Councils would be obliged to reimburse the mayor or combined authority for expenditure incurred.

Commencement: These provisions will come into force on a date to be prescribed by regulations.

Comment: The measure could be a way of "bashing heads together and so overcome some of the barriers to getting a local plan agreed", said Catriona Riddell, strategic planning convenor for the Planning Officers Society. District Councils Network planning adviser Jerry Unsworth said the proposal should be part of a suite of other measures that "would enable planning across a whole market area".