Javid names 15 councils facing local plan intervention

Communities secretary Sajid Javid is set to take control of plan making at 15 local authorities that have failed to make progress on their local plans, he announced today as part of a wide-ranging speech on housebuilding.

Communities secretary Sajid Javid
Communities secretary Sajid Javid

Saying his "patience has run out" with local authorities that had failed to get plans in place despite repeated deadlines, Javid said he was today commencing action to remove their plan-making powers to prevent them "failing the people they serve."

Councils affected include Liverpool, St Albans and Brentwood.

Javid said he would be writing to the 15 councils today informing them of his intention to take over their plan making powers and "write their plan for them."

The councils will have an opportunity to respond by January 31 next year, citing any mitigating circumstances, and then Javid will make a final decision.

Citing York, which he claimed last produced a full plan in 1954, Javid said: "It’s been 13 years since the current local plan process was set up and incredibly more than 70 authorities have yet to produce a plan. There are 15 that are showing particular cause for concern, with deadlines broken and progress unacceptably slow.

"This means no strategic direction, piecemeal development and no coherent investment in infrastructure in these authorities. Unplanned development won’t fix the broken housing market.

"Because of my fundamental commitment to localism I have been willing to tolerate this for some time. But today is the day my patience has run out. By failing to plan they have failed the people they serve."

The councils affected are: Basildon, Brentwood, Bolsover, Calderdale, Castle Point, Eastleigh, Liverpool, Mansfield, North East Derbyshire, Northumberland, Runnymede, St Albans, Thanet, Wirral and York.

The 15 authorities threatened with intervention

Former housing minister Brandon Lewis threatened in 2015 to intervene in local authorities that didn’t have plans in place by early 2017, and powers to do so were introduced in the 2016 Housing and Planning Act. However, the early 2017 deadline passed without any interventions being made.

Javid also warned other councils not on today’s list without plans in place not to rest on their laurels. "Don’t think for a moment I won’t intervene again where necessary."

Javid announced his intervention in a speech on housing in Bristol, in which he told the audience to expect a significant boost to government plans for housebuilding in next week’s autumn Budget.

He said he wanted to see more homes of all tenures, and raised the prospect of expanding the current programme of garden towns and villages by considering the development of larger Garden Cities.

In addition, while welcoming the latest housebuilding figures published today which showed 217,000 net additions to the housing stock in 2016, Javid said much higher figures would be needed in future. "At the time of the white paper I talked about 225,000 to 275,000 homes. It’s going to need to be a lot more than that to crack this affordability problem."

Javid also told the audience to expect news "soon" on government plans to capture more of the land value from allocated land, in order to pay for necessary infrastructure.

He said the current housing crisis was creating a country in which "your opportunity is increasingly limited not by your talents, but by your ability to make a withdrawal from the bank of mum and dad. We must fix the broken housing market, and we must do it now."

"In next week’s budget you will see how seriously we take the challenge."

Ian Fletcher, director of policy at property lobby group the British Property Federation, welcomed the speech and said it would be helpful if the intervention in local authorities resulted in more councils getting plans in place.

"Respectable developers don’t want to be using the presumption in favour to get schemes through, they want to be working in partnership with local authorities," he said.

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