Healey pours scorn on resourcing gripe

Planning minister John Healey has rejected claims that councils lack resources to prepare local plans.

In an interview with Planning, Healey cited a recent study finding that 68 per cent of planners blame a lack of resources for slow progress with local development frameworks. "I find that hard to accept," he declared. "If it is a lack of resources then local authorities should be ensuring that they have the staff doing this job."

Cushman & Wakefield conducted the survey with the Town and Country Planning Association. Partner John Watson commented: "I suspect that a lot of councils would not agree. It is not particularly helpful."

Planning Officers Society spokesman John Silvester argued that changes to government guidance can often contribute to slow progress. "It is not uncommon for authorities to be caught on the back foot," he observed. Some 56 per cent of respondents cited this as a reason.

Healey also attacked Conservative shadow communities secretary Caroline Spelman for advising councils not to rush ahead with implementing contested elements of regional spatial strategies until after next year's general election.

"Spelman's letter was irresponsible and I would probably say it in stronger language," he complained. "People are saying it takes the election for granted. Tory councils are waving through applications that totally overlook any requirement for affordable homes."

For the full interview click here.

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