The secretary state for communities has written to Wirral and Thanet councils warning them that Whitehall intended to intervene over their failure to put local plans in place.
Under the 2004 Act Local Plan, the 338 local planning authorities in England are required to publish local plans that detail development strategies for their areas.
The Government confirmed in November 2017 that 15 councils had failed to put a local plan in place. Whitehall intervened in Wirral, Thanet and Castle Point the following March.
Secretary of state for communities James Brokenshire wrote to Wirral again at the end of January due to the council’s ‘failure over many years to get a local plan in place’.
The last plan Wirral council published was in 2000, covering the period up to March 2001.
Mr Brokenshire acknowledged that the council did not have higher than average housing pressure. However, he described the council’s performance on this issue as ‘lamentable’.
‘In my judgement taking over the preparation of the local plan offers the best prospect of the plan-making process being accelerated and of ensuring that an up-to-date local plan is put in place as soon as possible,’ he wrote.
Thanet council last adopted a local plan in 2006 and this covered a period up to 2011.
Unlike in Wirral, there are higher than average housing pressures in Thanet. It is within the top third of districts in England for high housing pressure.
In his letter to the council, Mr Brokenshire wrote that the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government would not take over preparation of the local plan.
However, the department still planned to intervene.
‘The intervention I have decided upon will provide more certainty and is the best way of ensuring that a Local Plan will be produced in accordance with the Local Development Scheme timetable,’ he wrote.