Response to Secretary of State's Local Plan warning

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News release: 31 January 2018

St Albans City and District Council has replied to concerns raised by the Government about delays in completing a new Local Plan (LP).

View of St Albans from park bench
Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, asked the Council last year to explain why it was behind schedule in producing a new LP.

He gave the Council – along with 14 other local authorities that were in a similar position – a deadline of Wednesday 31 January to respond.

Mr Javid has powers to send in his own team from Whitehall or ask other bodies to produce an LP if he is not satisfied with the answers.

Yesterday the Council submitted its reply and detailed its current actions. 

Councillor Alec Campbell, the Council’s Leader, said in his letter: “The Council has quickly and proactively moved forward on producing a new Local Plan and on working jointly with its neighbouring Councils. 

“As such the Council believes that it is the best body to progress a new Plan swiftly.”

An LP identifies land that could be used for future housing, commercial and infrastructure development. 

The Council is now engaged in preparing an LP for the period 2020-36 and at this stage is seeking to allow for 14,608 new homes. That target was set by the Government.

A public consultation began earlier this month with the District’s 60,000 households asked for their views on the major issues involved. This includes locations for the new homes with parts of the Green Belt having to be included.

After the consultation finishes on Wednesday 21 February, all views will be taken into account while a draft of the new Local Plan is completed.

If all goes to schedule, that will be considered by Full Council in the summer, consulted on again in the autumn and submitted to the Government in March next year.
 
All of this has been set out in the letter to Mr Javid together with an account of how a previous draft LP, proposed by the Council in 2015, had to be abandoned.

On that occasion, a Planning Inspector found the Council had not met its duty to co-operate with other local authorities in drawing up the plan. That ruling was upheld in the High Court last year.

Councillor Mary Maynard, Portfolio Holder for Planning, said: “As a Council, we have been putting a tremendous effort into producing a new Local Plan.

“We have had extensive discussions with neighbouring Councils and taken on board their concerns and suggestions. We believe this will fully address the duty to cooperate issues that were found in the last plan. We have also kept both of the District’s MPs fully informed and involved in what we are doing.

“Furthermore, in drawing up a new Local Plan we are consulting on the difficult choices involved as a consequence of meeting the Government’s target of planning for more than 900 new homes a year. 

“The response to the public consultation has exceeded all our expectations with more than 1,300 people having already given their views.

“I am confident that the Secretary of State will be impressed with the work we are undertaking and will give us the all clear to get on with the job.

“It’s far better that difficult and challenging decisions on the Local Plan are made by the residents’ locally-elected representatives rather than by Whitehall officials who will not have a passion or a real feel for the area.”


To take part in the consultation on the LP which runs until Wednesday 21 February, please see: www.stalbans.gov.uk/localplan2018

Councillor contacts:
Cllr Alec Campbell, Leader of St Albans City and District Council.
Tel: 07793 550200; email: cllr.a.campbell@stalbans.gov.uk

Cllr Mary Maynard, Portfolio Holder for Planning and Building Control, St Albans City and District Council. Tel: 01582 620801. Email: Cllr.M.Maynard@stalbans.gov.uk

Media contact: 
John McJannet, Principal Communications Officer, St Albans City and District Council. Tel: 01727-296130