Will councils’ lack of action plan make them vulnerable to the housing speculators?
Three local authorities in Essex have failed to produce the Housing Delivery Test Action Plan required of them by government.
They are among just 21 across the country to have not published the plans, which they are instructed to do if they under-deliver on housebuilding targets. The plans should set out how they intend to address the issue.
Research by Planning revealed that, of the 108 authorities required to produce an action plan after the results of the first test, 81 had not done so by the start of this month (October).
Three – Poole, Christchurch and Bournemouth – have merged into one authority, BCP Council, which had its action plan approved this month, while of the other 25 advised to produce a plan in February, when the HDT results were announced, four have either recently adopted their Local Plan or progressed it to an advanced stage, meaning their housing need figures and housing delivery test results are about to be superseded.
That leaves 21 who have not put forward a plan, among them Braintree, Brentwood and Castle Point.
Richard Crawley, of the Local Government Association’s Planning Advisory Service, which carried out action plan training sessions with local authorities, put the failure down to the complexities of gaining political sign-off and the plan deadline falling in the August holiday period.
However, he told Planning: “Inevitably, there will be some places who say these plans are not relevant for us and we are not going to do one.
“The view of the government is that the action plan is not a punishment or homework but something that councils should be doing for their own benefit.”
The problem, he suggests, it is that will be difficult for councils to appear at an appeal without an action plan and “be able to argue that their plan is up to date and working”.
Michael Knott, of consultancy Barton Willmore, endorsed that view, saying it was “very likely the case that the absence of an action plan would be viewed dimly by an inspector considering housing land supply”.
Monday, October 21, 2019