Basildon District Council has reconfirmed their prior decision to withdraw their drafted local plan from examination during the most recent full council meeting on 3rd March. This took place just one day after the council had received a warning against doing so from new Housing Minister Stuart Andrew MP.
Andrew, appointed following a cabinet reshuffle on 8 February, wrote to Basildon District Council Leader Andrew Baggott on 2nd March expressing his sincere disappointment toward the likely withdrawal and reminding the council that ‘the Government’s priority of getting up-to-date plans in place by the end of 2023 has not changed.’ In the letter, the Minister reiterated the risk of withdrawing the plan, echoed by planning officers, that doing so would leave Basildon open to the risk of appeals and unwelcome speculative investment.
The now withdrawn Basildon Local Plan, submitted for examination in March 2019, contained provisions for nearly 17,800 homes for the period of 2014-2034. 9,179 of these homes were to be built in existing urban areas in Basildon with the remaining 8,612 homes to be delivered on land taken from the Green Belt. It is thought that this decrease in Green Belt land, projected to have totalled a 4% reduction by 2034, was chiefly to blame for the local plan withdrawal.
In response to a housing shortage across the country, Central Government has reiterated the need for strong local plans that meet housing targets. A local plan, an important document for setting out a vision and framework for future development, was last adopted in Basildon in 1998. As Andrew noted in his letter, this means that Basildon has not had a plan since the 2004 Planning Act was rolled out. The Minister continued that he would ask his officials to carefully monitor Basildon’s progress in drafting a new plan should they decide to withdraw. He concluded that ‘the Government remain prepared to intervene where local authorities fail to make sufficient progress in accordance with the existing statutory powers in the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004. I will carefully consider all appropriate actions using available statutory powers, including whether to direct with regard to the local development scheme and inviting the County Council to prepare a local plan for Basildon.’
Over to you Basildon.
To find out more about the local politics of planning and how Cratus can help you and your project navigate them please contact Julian Seymour – MD, Planning Communications.