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23/07/2015

Government imposes 2017 local plan deadline

Words: Laura Edgar

Housing minister Brandon Lewis says that councils will have until “early 2017” to produce a local plan – or have it taken out of their hands.

As was revealed in the government’s Fixing The Foundations productivity plan, the government would have the power to intercede if councils fail to deliver a local plan on time.

Lewis now says in a written statement (PDF) that the deadline before intervention is “early 2017”.

Nexus Planning has welcomed the proposed deadline.

Dominick Veasey, associate at the consultancy, said it sends a clear message to local councils that “this government is serious on its commitment to get up-to-date local plans in place”.

“Our hope is that this date does not creep back,” he said.

Veasey advised that to avoid unsound local plans reaching the examination stage, the government could introduce “a form of preliminary light-tough examination process prior to submission to the secretary of state”.

This, he said, could also save time by identifying “serious evidence soundness or legal competence failings in advance”.

The written statement also confirmed that planning guidance will be strengthened to improve the duty to cooperate on housing and planning issues, “to ensure than housing and infrastructure needs are identified and planned for”.

Veasey said there is “no doubt that the duty to cooperate is failing”. Therefore, he fully supports the government’s commitment to address this “strategic planning shortcoming”.

What is also needed, he said, is stronger and “more accountable leadership” from local councils.

“Housing and infrastructure needs are not bound by administrative boundaries. Local councils must therefore not keep looking to government, but recognise their collective duty to ensure that housing and infrastructure needs are identified and planned for,” he said.

Image courtesy of the DCLG

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