Posted by: westlancashirerecord | April 13, 2017

Over Half Of Councils Yet To Issue Draft Local Plan

Only 36% of councils have an up-to-date local plan to use as a basis for granting planning permissions, and 43% have not yet even reached the first stage of issuing a draft. Those findings have come from a survey by planning consultancy Lichfields , which said the councils that had been slowest to produce plans were usually those that faced controversial issues of meeting growing housing demand amid environmental restrictions. It said that since the National Planning Policy Framework began, 161 local plans had been submitted and 105 found sound though 30% of those were subject to an ‘early review’ for housing-related reasons.

“As the NPPF hits half a decade of existence, the plan-led system it advocates – one that proactively seeks to meet needs – continues to show slow progress. The housing white paper shows a keen understanding of the problems with local plan production and its impact on housing delivery. In response, a raft of tools and mechanisms are signalled, accompanied by clear obligations on plan-making bodies and developers alike to hold their side of the bargain.”

Lichfields said the government had retained a power – as yet unused – to intervene where a council failed to produce a plan. But it said the white paper implied a shift of emphasis to spurring councils to build by using its proposed new housing delivery test. Under this test, from November this year councils where building falls below 95% of requirements will have to publish an action plan that demonstrates how this will be rectified. Those where output slips below 85% will have to find an additional 20% building land ‘buffer’ in addition to whatever is provided for in their local plan.

From November 2018, places where delivery fell below 25% of the requirement would have the National Planning Policy Framework’s presumption in favour of sustainable development imposed on them, effectively allowing applicants to build almost anywhere regardless of what any plan might provide for. This rule would become tighter until by 2020 the sustainable development presumption would apply where delivery was below 65% of requirements.

According to Lichfields’ assessment there are 222 councils that could be penalised for failing to meet the test unless they change their approach. It said 56% of English councils were likely to have to provide the buffer and 12% only an action plan, while 32%, mostly in areas of lower housing pressure, would face no action.

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