Government confirms it will step in after Thanet council failure to produce Local Plan

Housing Secretary Sajid Javid is sending a team to Thanet

The government will step in to speed up the process of Thanet’s Local Plan, it has been confirmed today (March 23).

Housing Secretary Sajid Javid has today written to 15 local authorities in England to inform them of decisions on intervention following their continued failure to produce a local plan, which is a 20 year blueprint for housing, business and infrastructure.

Thanet is one of three authorities where the government has confirmed it could well take over the entire process.

The Government’s Chief Planner and a team of experts will be sent to the isle to assess whether the plan needs taking out of the hands of Thanet council.

Chief Planner, Steve Quartermain CBE and the team will report back to the Secretary of State who will then take a final decision on formal intervention later this year. In addition, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government will conduct formal discussions with relevant county councils and city regions to see if they could take over plan production on the Secretary of State’s behalf.

A spokesman from the Housing Ministry said: “The situation is quite serious for Thanet. If the council cannot convince the team of its progress then they will take steps to intervene and write the plan up directly.”

Thanet council, along with 14 others, was warned of the possible measures last November.

The threat, made by Secretary of State Sajid Javid, said the failure  to meet deadlines to put a local plan in place meant the government serving notice of its intention to intervene.

In his letter Sajid Javid said Thanet, and the other authorities, had until January 31 to justify to Government the failure to produce a Local Plan.

Councillors voted the plan down

In January the plan was voted down by Thanet councillors with 35 members against putting the plan forward to the next stage and 20 in favour.

The vote, which led to the end of the UKIP administration, forced Thanet council to admit  there would need to be a review of previously submitted, and new, sites; fresh reviews of supporting documents and new reports to council committees.

TDC said there needed to be identification of sites to take the 2,500 homes ‘displaced from the airport site’ plus, possibly, a further 3,090 homes earmarked for the isle if new government calculations are applied.

The authority said this could take between 8-10 months with the intention to publish a pre-submission draft plan by December 2018 and the plan not being submitted for examination until April 2019.

‘Small minority’

A Ministry spokesman said: “The Government has abolished top-down regional planning. But a locally-led planning system requires elected local representatives to take the lead, listen to local residents and business, and set out a clear framework to build new homes, provide key infrastructure, support the local economy and protect the environment

“Most councils have seized the opportunity that localism presents – however a small minority have not and do not have a local plan in place. This can mean uncertainty for local people, have a negative impact on neighbourhood planning groups, result in piecemeal speculative housing development and communities having no plans in place for crucial local infrastructure and services.”

Failure

Housing Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Whilst most councils rightly recognise their responsibilities and most have worked hard to meet the housing challenge, some have failed.

“I expect those authorities we identified in November to continue to make progress. I’m also stepping it up with three councils in particular, sending in a team of experts to make a direct assessment, ensuring they plan properly for the future or we’ll have to do it for them.”

‘Not exceptional’

In the letter to Thanet Sajid Javid said: “The district council’s argument to justify this failure sets out two inter-related circumstances – the local debate over the future of Manston Airport and the need to undertake further work to identify alternative sites after the Plan failed to proceed. I consider that these are not exceptional circumstances – other authorities have dealt with uncertainty about the future of large sites.

“In terms of the intervention criteria, Thanet have failed to make progress on planmaking, the policies do not appear to be up to date and there is high housing pressure. At the current time this is an authority where intervention would have the greatest impact by accelerating Local Plan production. The Council does not have an up to date Local Development Scheme, whilst I note the suggestion from your officers that your Council intends to update the scheme.

“Having considered the Council’s representations and the Government’s policy set out in the November 2017 Written Ministerial Statement and the housing White Paper, I have decided to continue with the intervention process.”

A procurement process is currently underway to secure planning consultants and specialists who will swiftly undertake the work on plan production should the council not comply in the time required.

A Thanet council spokesman said: “Thanet District Council has today (Friday 23 March) been informed by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government that a team of planning experts will be working with the council to review its Local Plan position and set out a programme for its approval.”

Council Leader, Cllr Bob Bayford said: “As a new administration we are committed to progressing and delivering a Local Plan. This intervention was expected and we welcome the opportunity to work together with Government to achieve a plan that works for Thanet.”

28 Comments

  1. So kcc tories from outside Thanet will takeover from Thanet District Council tories on the order of a Tory minister to decide the housing programme in this area. That’s what the tories call democracy!!

  2. TDC as a whole has failed to get it’s act together, come up with a plan and make a decision. Democracy has been seen to fail because of opposing views.

    Autocracy will now take over because whatever decision is made will still not be the right one in many views. We had our chance and missed it – now we will have to put up with whatever decision is made on our behalf – purely and simply because we could not make a decision on our own !

  3. All down to Chris Wells (Ex Leader TDC) and his obstinate personal views on Manston. Not really a UKIP true-blood (being an ex Tory).
    He must have planned this Months ago, with the Tory buddy’s.

    • Chris Wells tried his very best to reintroduce aviation to Manston. But facts overwhelmed him, and without any evidence whatsoever to support the notion, he had no option other than to bow to the obvious.

        • It wasn’t Chris Wells but geographical position which made commercial aviation unviable at Manston.

        • What, for example? Working with ROIC towards a CPO – scuppered by ROIC?
          A further period of soft market testing – that produced no results?
          Seeking expert opinion on whoch to base the LP – opinion (the same as every other expert) thay said “No”?
          What might Chris Wells have done that he didn’t do? Move Manston about 50 miles nearer London, for example?

    • The more houses get built on Stone Hill Park’s land, the fewer will need to be built on greenfield sites .

      Perhaps RSP could find a nice disused airport for sale somewhere central. The sooner the better!

  4. The reality is we have suffered from an inept TDC for probably 30 years and the latest in-fighting over Manston and housing is the latest debacle. Perhaps we can kick this Manston as an AIRPORT RUBBISH into touch and put the houses, that nobody wants, on that location which is the reason why we have the Secretary of Housing stepping in anyway! I Prefer a school and medical centre and sports faciilities over long haul aircraft (747 yes 747s because that’s what’s out there) any day. Biggles is dead get with the program !

  5. Councillors have made absolute fools of themselves over the issue of Manston. Chris Wells may not have been liked but he was following sound legal advice in producing an evidence-based local plan. The new plan will still be evidence-based and, as the evidence has not changed, the plan will not change. The only difference will be that the decision will be taken out of the council’s hands.

    • Chris Wells didn’t have to do anything to “sink aviation at Manston”. Commercial aviation never took off. It failed time after time after time, eventually losing £Ms. If you’re looking for someone to blame for Manston’s demise, look no further than the people of Thanet, who chose in droves not to fly from Manston.

  6. Sink Manston, sink the Tory party. The people of Thanet will dissolve their majority, fast!

  7. THANET NEEDS JOBS NOT HOUSES! But it also needs roads, doctors, dentists, water supply and sewage disposal. THANET IS ALREADY GRIDLOCKED.

    • Thanet needs better public transport and far fewer cars . It needs councillors who aren’t fixated on one thing -a thing which would cause a huge amount of damage to the environment and to the health of many local residents.

  8. The legal owners of the Manston site are planning a mixed development which will include a medical centre, two schools an advanced manufacturing units and a major tourist attraction. Thousands of jobs will be created. It sounds as if they are ticking most of the boxes on your list. How many schools and medical centres are RSP planning to build?

  9. If there was anyone to blame it would be our local MP’s for keeping the Manston flame smouldering on a dead pipe dream, and then the foolish councillors that listened to them putting that before all else voting against the Local Plan which had been foretold by more sensible guys – would backfire on them.
    The Local Plan was a good plan and should now be brought back out of the recycling bin and put to use by the Government planners on their way to Thanet. Those Councillors could be seen as more than just a bunch of yokels if they try hard enough to talk sense and facts rather than listen to our MP’s with SMA protesters brandishing pitchforks and banshee’s.

  10. A further nail in the Manston coffin is the proposed Ashford Gatwick fast link which means anyone outside of East Kent will be able to get to Gatwick or Heathrow even quicker we won’t get a fast link to Ramsgate from Ashford for years after that.

  11. As an Indian woman, I know from experience that muslims, especially those with political power, have an agenda they are unwilling to share: in this case turning Britain into Britanistan by yesterday!

  12. @Andrew: The (muslim) minister wants more housing in Thanet, riding roughshod over the local authority. What is his agenda? Work it out for yourself; it isn’t rocket science.

    • The SoS is sending in Whitehall Officials because our own inept councillors voted down the Local Plan. There is no hidden agenda.

      • @Andrew: Do you mean central government is no respecter of the democratic process of local government? You did say the Thanet councillors ‘VOTED down the local plan’. Inept they may be, but democracy, such as it is, must be honoured.

        • TDC should have had a local plan several years ago- a sensible, practical one. Now, they still don’t have one. I suppose an alternative could have been presented by the councillors who voted against the ex-current one. But perhaps local government rules don’t allow for that.

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