Exclusive: Thanet claims to be 'off the intervention hitlist' after local plan submission

A council that is undergoing central government scrutiny of its local plan production because of its slow progress says it believes it is now off the Whitehall 'hitlist' after submitting the draft document for examination.

Manston Airport, Kent. Image by Max Montagut, Flickr
Manston Airport, Kent. Image by Max Montagut, Flickr

Earlier this year, former housing secretary Sajid Javid sent in a Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) team to examine Thanet District Council's local plan-making to assess whether central government should take over preparation of the document.

Thanet, along with Castle Point and Wirral councils, in Essex and Merseyside respectively, were told it was due to their continued failure to produce a local plan.

Today, a spokeswoman for Thanet Council said this threat was no longer hanging over the council after it submitted the plan for examination last week. 

She said: "We had a government team visit us a few months ago and we worked with them on our local plan preparation. They were happy with the timetable we proposed. I think we are off the hitlist now."

Thanet Council's final submission document has not yet been published but the spokeswoman said it was due to be in the next few days.

However, the pre-submission version published at the end of August provided for 17,140 additional homes over the 20 year period to 2031.

It outlined a "stepped approach" to meeting the target, with lower delivery levels during the first five years, rising afterwards.

The plan outlines seven strategic housing sites to deliver larger developments.

The pre-submission document also proposed to leave the status of the former Manston Airport site undefined.

In January, councillors voted to refuse approval of the council's draft local plan for examination because of objections to its allocation of the Manston site, which closed as an operation airport in 2014, for housing and employment.

In July, the council voted to leave open the possibility of reopening the airport by reallocating the 2,500 homes originally earmarked for the site in the emerging plan to other parts of the district.

The following month, the Planning Inspectorate accepted a development consent order application to reopen the airport as an air freight hub, contrary to rival plans for 2,500 homes on the site still being progressed by its owner.

The pre-submission document said: "If a DCO for aviation use at the site is granted, this would require a partial review of the local plan in relation to housing land supply provisions, aviation and environmental policies and other related matters." 

A statement from the MHCLG said a decision on the plan would be made in due course.

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