Another local plan pushed into the long grass

Basildon Council agreed last month the new LDS for its local plan, having withdrawn its previous one back in April. It has the new local plan adoption in 2027! This is the latest in a long line of councils dragging their feet – Uttlesford, St Albans, Castle Point, Hertsmere to name but a few.

Councils reluctant

These Is a reluctance from some councils to give what amounts to consent to significant development within their areas where this could be considered politically unpalatable. The Government is in a difficult situation: it knows it needs to build more homes, but those homes are needed more in the south east, in the blue shires, where the prospect of development is not welcomed by Conservative grass root supporters. The Conservative leadership only has to look at the Amersham and Chesham by-election last year.

Councils know this, and DLUHC has done nothing to provide clarity with past ministers commenting on various aspects of local plans, undermining existing policy, including the sanctity of green belt, how the housing targets are calculated and the timescales.

The manifesto pledge to build 300,000 homes per year has not been mentioned recently, although it cannot be dropped, not officially anyway, it may be quietly parked and forgotten.

Growth, Growth, Growth

The Prime Minister has made her objective clear in her speech at the Conservative Party Conference last week; growth, growth, growth. Development and regeneration are key engines to any growth, as was seen after the Great Depression and after the Second World War.

The new Secretary of State, Simon Clark MP, has been leaking various proposals on planning reforms to gauge responses. These have included conducting a charm offensive turning NIMBYs into YIMBYs, a bonfire of red tape from the EU, reducing the requirement for affordable housing, amending nutrient pollution requirements and re-looking at biodiversity.

Housing Targets

Suggestions that the housing targets will be dropped is premature, but it is likely the way they are calculated could be changed. The onus may be upon planning authorities to come up with numbers, and then provide the evidence base to justify them to the inspector. That will undoubtedly lead to numerous court cases.

Clark has said that more detail on proposals will come out in the coming weeks and months. We will wait and see.