Sajid Javid names 15 councils facing local plan intervention – and Wirral is one of them.

Saying that his “patience has run out” with local authorities that have failed to put an up-to-date local plan in place, despite deadlines being extended again and again, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government has announced that he is today commencing action to recover plan-making powers from these Councils in order to prevent them from continuing to fail the people they serve.

Javid said he would be writing to all of the affected Councils today, informing them of his intention to “write their plan for them”.

Wirral Council will have an opportunity to respond by 31 January 2018, citing any mitigating circumstances, and then Javid will make the final decision about whether to intervene.

Javid stated:  “It’s been 13 years since the current local plan process was set up and incredibly more than 70 authorities have yet to produce a plan.  There are 15 that are showing particular cause for concern, with deadlines broken and progress unacceptably slow.  This means no strategic direction, piecemeal development and no coherent investment in infrastructure in these authorities.  Unplanned development won’t fix the broken housing market.  Because of my fundamental commitment to localism, I have been willing to tolerate this for some time, but today is the day my patience has run out.  By failing to plan, they have failed the people they serve.”

The legal powers for the Secretary of State to intervene were introduced in the Housing and Planning Act 2016 and the former housing minister, Brandon Lewis, threatened to intervene “in early 2017″.

Javid made the announcement at a meeting in Bristol, where he told the audience to expect a significant boost to government plans for housebuilding in next week’s autumn budget.

He said he wanted to see more homes of all tenures and raised the prospect of expanding the existing programme of garden towns and villages by considering the development of large-scale garden cities.

He went on to say that the current housing crisis was creating a country where ” your opportunity is increasingly limited not by your talents, but by your ability to make a withdrawal from the bank of mum and dad.  We must fix the broken housing market, and we must do it now.”

The full list of Councils affected by the Secretary of State’s intention to intervene is: Basildon, Brentwood, Bolsover, Calderdale, Castle Point, Eastleigh, Liverpool, Mansfield, North East Derbyshire, Northumberland, Runnymede, St Albans, Thanet, Wirral and York.

Source: Joey Gardiner, Planning Resource, 16 November 2017

Local Comment: The Government has stated that, in areas where the Secretary of State decides to intervene in plan-making, that the plan will be produced “in consultation with local people”.  The Birkenhead and Tranmere Neighbourhood Planning Forum looks forward to working with the Secretary of State to produce a local plan for Wirral which truly meets the challenges that face the diverse communities and neighbourhoods of Wirral over the next few decades. – Philip Barton