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Government to enforce delivery of local plans by 2017

Councils will be required to produce local plans by 2017 or have the government produce them itself, the Prime Minister announced today (12 October).

The announcement comes ahead of the publication of the housing bill, and will help towards the government’s goal of delivering one million homes by 2020.

The measure responds to an identified shortfall in council local plans. Eighty-two per cent of councils have published local plans, but only 65 per cent have fully adopted them – and 20 per cent of councils have no up-to-date plan at all.

“We need a national crusade to get homes built and everyone must play their part,” said Cameron.

“Councils have a key role to play in this by drawing up their own local plans, but if they fail to act, we’ll work with local people to produce a plan for them.”

Further details on how to proceed when councils have failed to start their plans are to be announced soon.

The housing bill will set out a number of proposals to boost home building and ownership, including automatic planning permission in principle brownfield sites and reforms to support small builders.

Additionally, a new legal duty relating to affordable starter homes will be placed on councils to guarantee delivery on all reasonably sized new development sites. Local authorities will be able to bid for part of a £10 million starter homes fund through helping councils prepare brownfield sites that would not otherwise have been used for starter homes.

The PM will also announce that the permitted development rights introduced in May 2013 - allowing disused offices to be converted into homes without a planning permission application - will be made permanent after almost 4,000 conversions were sanctioned between April 2014 to June this year.

British Land CEO Chris Grigg welcomed the government’s “renewed commitment” to providing new homes, stating that “we know without up-to-date local plans and the planned release of brownfield sites, community support for what is needed will not be forthcoming”.

Melanie Leech, British Property Federation chief executive, said: “Local plans provide certainty, which is the holy grail for investors, and ensuring that all local authorities have them in place will undoubtedly have a positive effect on investment.”

But she added that a change of local plans to make them slimmer, more targeted and more effective was “absolutely critical”.

This announcement follows the agreement reached last week to extend the Right to Buy to 1.3 million housing association tenants.