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Councils Provided With Tough 2017 Deadline to Prepare Local Plans

Planning Minister Brandon Lewis has moved quickly this week to deliver more detail on planning reforms in relation to Local Plans. Tough measures are proposed to ensure Council’s put a plan in place as soon as possible. The Government proposes that where no Local Plan has been produced by early 2017 it will intervene to accelerate production of plan to be prepared in consultation with local people.

We would be happy to assist any existing or prospective clients in understanding the position of the development plan in any local authority area. We can help to establish whether your interests may be promoted to assist the Council with meeting its current housing requirements as well as additional benefits if they are included in an up-to-date and effective Local Plan.

A Written Statement issued on 21st July reiterates the great emphasis the planning system places on a plan-led approach providing certainty over the location of new development. The Government retains a strong commitment to these principles, recognising that the lack of an up-to-date plan can slow down the economic recovery and create an adversarial climate for developers. Significant benefits can result from locally-led plans produced in consultation with the community.

The Government cites revocation of top-down Regional Strategies as helping to support this, but the latest reforms recognise that preparation of new plans has remained far too slow in some authorities.

To help speed up the process, the Government looks to introduce a degree of flexibility in the Local Plan examination process. This may allow some matters like changes in job growth to be considered in future reviews. However, the announcements emphasise that Local Plans must still be prepared to fully meet local needs. It is also anticipated that planning guidance will be strengthened to ensure neighbouring authorities co-operate over key issues:

  • to ensure that housing and infrastructure needs are identified and planned for.

It is likely to remain crucial for Local Plans to grapple with key priorities and the significant housing pressure that exists across wider areas.

The exact date at which a plan needs to have been published in 2017 is not yet confirmed. Neither is the stage that the local authority needs to have reached by this point. These are important questions; particularly for those authorities that have currently prepared very limited evidence and those with a history of previously publishing plans which do not meet full housing needs.

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