Rural Leaders Call for Government Crack-down on Councils without Local Plans

01 April 2016

Government must take a firmer stand with local councils that are failing to put in place an up-to-date Local Plan, says the CLA.

The CLA, which represents landowners, farmers and rural businesses, made the comments in response to the Communities & Local Government (CLG) Committee’s report on national planning policy, published today.

CLA Housing Adviser Matthew O’Connell said: “The Committee’s report highlights the shocking fact that 34% of councils still don’t have a Local Plan in place. Every area must have a Local Plan. It is the essential local framework for delivering much-needed rural housing, and provides a basis for making investments that benefit the local economy and community. Too many rural communities and businesses are being stifled because their local planning authority will not put in place the up to date Local Plan that Government requires of them.

“The time has come to take a firmer stand. We are fully supportive of the recommendation within the Committee’s report, and also of the Local Plan Expert Group’s report that a statutory duty should be placed on Local Authorities to produce and maintain Local Plans.

CLA’s Matthew O’Connell also commented on the report’s examination of small scale housing developments, and developments on brownfield land:

“Rural areas are really suffering from the housing crisis and small scale developments are very important in providing homes, creating jobs and ensuring the continued vibrancy of rural communities. There has been a sharp decline in housing delivery by small developers since the 1980s and we are supportive of the Government’s efforts to reverse this decline by freeing up opportunities for developing small scale housing sites. While we appreciate the need to monitor the impact of the development of small sites, housing has to be built somewhere and small sites are obviously more suited to smaller communities.

“Making decisions about the right development approach on an area by area basis is at the core of a Local Plan-led approach, and is the right way to deliver the development rural communities need. In some cases, developing greenfield land will be the right thing to do. The CLA is not opposed to the approach of considering brownfield development opportunities first, but greenfields must remain an option, not least because brownfield land can often be difficult to develop. Over reliance on brownfield land could lead to under-delivery of much-needed new housing in rural areas.”

The CLG Committee report can be found here: www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/communities-and-local-government-committee/news-parliament-2015/national-planning-policy-report-published-15-16/