Sajid Javid, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, has spoken out to warn local authorities that the government will be taking a strict approach to ensuring local plans are readily available by the end of January 2018.
The shadow house minister, John Healey, in response reminded that “two years ago the Government promised action on local plans by ‘early 2017’,” meaning this intervention will have been delayed by a year by the time local authorities are expected to have produced local plans.
The local plans are intended to be produced as part of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 which lays out the strategies and development schemes devised to solve the “broken” housing market.
The reason why local plans from authorities form such an important role in improving the housing market is that they give essential information to prospective developers, detailing where housing can be built. This process can be delayed significantly without plans readily available for developers to see, meaning they are forced to submit speculative applications which may be refused or postponed unnecessarily.
Sajid Javid states that if there is any reason why a local authority may not produce a local plan by this date, they must send details of the exceptional circumstances which mean they are unable to do so before the date expires.
Currently, there are 15 local authorities nation-wide who have failed to produce a local plan under the 2004 Act. If the deadline is missed by any authorities who do not submit a plea for exceptional circumstances, the department will begin the process of intervention.
Whilst housing development has improved since last year’s results, with more than 215,000 homes built in 2016/17, the figure still falls short by more than 30,000 from the number of houses the charity Shelter predicts is needed to fix the broken housing market.
It is hoped that by urging local authorities to publicise local plans, more developers will progress their planning permissions in accordance with the plots available for social housing and most importantly, more houses will be built.
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