National and Devolved Politics

05.02.19

Brokenshire orders government intervention at two councils over ‘consistent failures’ to publish local housing plans

Wirral Council and Thanet District Council are to face government intervention after James Brokenshire wrote to the authorities regarding their “lamentable” failure to draw up a local housing plan.

All of England’s 338 planning authorities are required to publish local plans detailing their development strategies, but Thanet’s last adopted local plan was in 2006 and Wirral’s was in 2000.

Brokenshire described Wirral Council’s performance as “lamentable” and said its “consistent failure” to meet targets had left the authority reliant on policies from 19 years ago.

He said government intervention was appropriate at both councils as the “failure to plan for and deliver the homes people need is clear.”

The government announced in November 2017 that it would consider intervention at 15 local authorities who had all failed to produce a local plan, and in March 2018 the intervention process continued with three of the authorities.

Brokenshire has now directed Thanet and Wirral councils to designate a lead councillor to the issue and publish an action plan within the next 10 weeks, and must also send monthly reports to the government on progress.

The communities secretary has stated that he has chosen to write to these two councils after finding the least progress made in plan-making and that policies haven’t been kept up to date, and the government feels that intervention would have the “greatest impact” in accelerating progress.

He said: “In comparison with other authorities written to by the former secretary of state in November 2017, Wirral have made the least progress. Of those authorities still to submit their Local Plan for examination, Wirral are timetabled to submit significantly later than the other authorities.”

And there is a “compelling case” for local plan intervention at Thanet after it had also consistently failed to bring forward the local plan as legally required.

In both cases, Brokenshire has said the government will not prepare the authority’s local housing plan itself, “offering a final opportunity to demonstrate a clear path towards” delivering the plan.

 Image credit - PA Images

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