Local Plans Expert Group News and Analysis
Last week, the government's Local Plan Expert Group published its long-awaited report on streamlining and improving the local plan-making process. John Geoghegan spoke to group chairman John Rhodes, director of consultancy Quod
The chair of a heavyweight panel commissioned by the government to look at ways to streamline the local plan process has said that the recommendations contained in its report could have 'seismic' implications for calculating housing need and land supply.
Only three councils have this year expressed an interest in submitting a housing land supply annual position statement to the Planning Inspectorate to confirm their five-year target for 12 months. Practitioners say the tight timescales for preparing such documents so soon after local plan adoption and the risk of an inspector removing sites from a local authority's claimed pipeline make it an unappealing option for many.
The housing ministry has proposed a shake-up of its standard method of assessing housing need. Commentators say this has been prompted by ministers' concerns about the loss of green belt and greenfield land, but opinions differ as to how radical the changes might be.
Why the failure of two out of three councils to fix their housing land supply may deter others from trying
Of the first tranche of councils seeking to protect their housing land supply from appeal challenges for a year via a new policy route, only one has succeeded. Some observers say the difficulties experienced by this first wave may put off other authorities from embarking on the process this year.
A Lancashire council has become the first and only local authority to confirm its five-year housing land supply via an annual position statement, after planning inspectors knocked back attempts by two other councils.
Recent instances of councils strongly and publicly criticising an inspector's handling of the examination of their local plan reflect the reality that they are not in complete control of the documents, say experts