The UK Government has announced that it will directly intervene if councils fail to produce local plans by 2017. And although the Prime Minister has promised that this will include working with ‘local people’, there can be no doubt that this flies in the face of the localism agenda, which interestingly has been trumpeted extensively at the government’s convenience recently in relation to the decentralisation of decision making on major wind farm developments.
This proposed local intervention is one of a number of key planning changes expected to appear in next week’s Housing and Planning Bill in which the Government will set out how it proposes to enable the delivery of the 200,000 new starter homes pledged in the Tory manifesto.
As set out recently at the Tort party conference, this is based around two key measures – the easing of planning rules on brownfield sites, as well as a change to rules around the provision of ‘affordable homes’ on new developments to include privately owned starter homes. The Government is clearly committed to trying to make life easier for private developers in England – whether these changes will filter through to Wales in the longer term remains to be seen but would appear unlikely in the case of the change to affordable home quotas.
We wait in anticipation for the imminent publishing of the new Bill to see the final details, and if or how the Welsh Government will respond.