In a press release today the Prime Minister states:
“Councils must produce local plans for new homes in their area by 2017 – or the government will ensure, in consultation with local people, those plans are produced for them.”However, Civic Voice respond with a cautious welcome …
Ian Harvey, Executive Director of Civic Voice, said; “We believe it is essential that every place has a plan and that is why we called for it in our manifesto "Localism for Real". Nonetheless, our support is not whole-hearted. We are concerned that Government intervention, while fixing the immediate problem, does not deal with the causes. Planning departments are woefully lacking in capacity, as bodies such as the British Property Federation, have pointed out. The process of agreeing housing numbers is fraught with difficulties, the duty to co-operate is proving hard to implement and plans are being undermined by frequent legal challenges. We would like to know how the Government proposes to tackle these systemic problems".Not to mention having somewhere to actually build them without selling off iconic, well-used playing fields or other amenities that attract people in the first place.
Harvey finished by saying “We would like to see the detail of how the Government will ‘work with local people’ to produce plans to be sure that there will be a genuine collaborative planning process rather than tokenistic consultation. We also fear that faced with this sanction local authorities will be tempted to quickly cobble together local plans to meet the 2017 deadline without sufficient engagement with residents and businesses. Government intervention may be a necessary evil, but more work is needed to get our local-plan-making process working effectively for people and places. We look forward to debating this issue with the Planning Minister, Brandon Lewis MP when we see him in a a few weeks time".The pressure is now on for Redbridge council to bite the bullet and make that decision on Oakfield, one way or the other. They can’t just keep putting it off due to the proximity of elections.