Castle Point District Council has been urged by the government to deliver its new revised local plan ‘at pace’ in light of its decision to restart the process.
But the government’s response has been described as weak by planning consultants.
A master plan for Castle Point comprising 5,325 homes was withdrawn in June, which the council says will be replaced by one with a lower housing target.
The three parts of Castle Point Borough Council have agreed to work on a new local plan with housing allocation below the government-mandated target of 5,325 homes over the next decade.
It means Castle Point Borough Council could now have just over 18 months to design an improved version before the government steps in to decide where the houses should go.
By voting against its previous version in March, the council made it clear that it was not completely retired. One of the main concerns of the plan was to allocate land in Canvey Island for housing.
But a motion passed by the full council on June 15 that called for the unadopted local plan to be scrapped altogether and a new one started with a lower housing number “which reflects local needs” was then implemented.
The government has now written to the council reminding it of its commitment to “have effective and up-to-date plans in place”.
A letter from Minister of State Marcus Jones to Councilor Dave Blackwell, Leader of Castle Point Borough Council, said: ‘Given my recent appointment as Minister for Housing, I thought I would take advantage of the opportunity to write to you as the new Head of Castle Point Council. regarding the Castle Point local plan.
“The government is committed to having effective and up-to-date plans in place, as this is essential for planning and meeting housing needs; in such a way as to make good use of the land and create well-designed and attractive places to live.
“In light of the withdrawal of the local plan from Castle Point, I encourage you to ensure that council moves forward with preparing a timetable for the delivery of a new local plan as soon as possible.
“This will provide certainty for communities, businesses and developers, reduce speculative development and help our towns, cities and towns grow in a way that preserves the uniqueness of their communities.”
He added, “The government strongly believes in the plan-driven system. Plans allow local areas to define their strategy for future growth and their approach to protecting and enhancing local character, as well as securing community buy-in.
“To support this, we are proposing far-reaching and ambitious reforms through the Leveling and Regeneration Bill, of which planning measures are a key part.
“The planning measures will give local leaders and communities the tools they need to regenerate towns and cities, create better places and restore local pride.
“Planning is a key enabler of regeneration, the planning measures in the bill will support regeneration by enabling more efficient land use, improving land reclamation and supporting the provision of infrastructure. I expect you to implement your new local plan at pace while keeping these proposals clearly in mind. »
But the government has been criticized for not showing more steel as the initial draft local plan was deemed “serious” and suitable for adoption by a government inspector.
Tim Burden, director of planning at planning and development consultancy Turley, said the government should be stronger.
Writing on social media, he said: ‘Letters like this to Castle Point don’t really give you confidence in the government’s commitment to a plan led system.
“One of many authorities that need real intervention or nothing will happen. Years of low threats and no government action.
A DLUHC spokesperson said: “Councils, not central government, are best placed to make decisions locally, based on the needs of their communities.
“Any decision to intervene in the development of the plan would be considered on a case-by-case basis, taking into account local circumstances.”
. plan local revised Castle Point must be delivered quickly