Government plans to scrutinise more tardy plan-making authorities

The government intends to broaden its programme of placing tardy plan-making authorities under close Whitehall scrutiny, a senior government official said yesterday.

Plan-making: slow authorities face further government scrutiny
Plan-making: slow authorities face further government scrutiny

Earlier this week, government chief planner Steve Quartermain said that the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) would make a decision "soon"  on whether to formally intervene in the local plan-making process in three councils deemed to be performing poorly in the preparation of updated planning strategies for their areas.

And yesterday, MHCLG planning director Simon Gallagher told a conference that "we are starting with the ones furthest away from getting the plans in place, but we really want to get onto the next wave, once we are through that conversation".

He was speaking at the British Institute of Agricultural Consultants national rural planning conference in Reading, which was supported by Planning.

He said that the intervention threat had generated positive effects: "People have brought forward plans much faster than they would have otherwise," he said.

"But what matters is not just having any plan, it actually has to be a good plan, a plan that really meets the needs of the community and provides proper sustainable development.

"There's a bit of just testing that we don't sort of force people to produce a piece of paper, which doesn't actually do the job it needs to".

He also said that he expected the ministry to consult on the findings of Sir Oliver Letwin's review of the rate at which planning permissions are built out, which is due before the 29 October Budget.

"I think we will need to do engagement on the back of his findings," he said. "I think that is a really important conversation to be had, about how do we use the planning system to get development to happen quicker, particularly on some of those large sites".

He also told delegates that the Rosewell review into how planning inquiries could be accelerated would still accept submissions, even though the call for evidence officially closed on 18 September.

"If you've missed the deadline but still want to contribute, please do get in some information, we are willing to take information after the event," he said.

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