The Housing and Planning Bill confirms an announcement made by Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne in July – that in 2017 authorities without a local plan in place will have one imposed on them.
Welcoming the Housing and Planning Bill the Prime Minister couched the deadline in rather softer terms:
‘‘My Government will do everything it can to help people buy a place of their own – at the heart of this is our ambition to build 1 million new homes by 2020.
Many areas are doing this already – and this is great – but we need a national crusade to get homes built and everyone must play their part.
Councils have a key role to play in this by drawing up their own local plans for new homes by 2017. But if they fail to act, we’ll work with local people to produce a plan for them.’’
Gaps in local plan coverage have caused real issues for the Government – in areas where planning by appeal has filled the void not enough homes are being built, and the political blame for the homes actually delivered has been laid squarely with the Planning Inspectorate (i.e ministers). For a Government aiming to build 200,0000 new homes a year, and to place responsibility for those homes on the shoulders of local government, this scenario is doubly damaging.
With only 65% of local authorities currently having an adopted plan in place the Government clearly hopes that this stick, paired with the carrot of a streamlined local plan making process, will galvanise local government towards 100% local plan coverage.