Bidwells' response to the local plan expert group
On 27 April Bidwells submitted their response to the Local Plan Expert Group (LPEG). LPEG set out 47 recommendations on how the Government could speed up the process of preparing a local plan.
Most of the recommendations are plainly sensible, although many need further exploration before they can be implemented as LPEG has recognised. Of particular note are:
- Standardising the method for establishing the objectively assessed housing needs of an area;
- Production of an 'Environmental Capacity Assessment' to understand how much land is potentially developable and whether there are genuine constraints to not meeting those objectively assessed housing needs in full;
- Changes to the tests of soundness to improve the effectiveness of the duty to cooperate;
- Consideration of strategic planning powers in devolution bids, as appropriate;
- Setting a timetable for preparation of local plans, limiting the period to two years;
- Streamlining the requirements for sustainability appraisal;
- Standardisation and auditing of the five year housing land supply process.
Bidwells has largely welcomed these recommendations, subject to amendments of our own.
In particular we are concerned that the proposed method of assessing housing need would not facilitate provision of housing in the areas of greatest need, especially those subject to significant employment growth.
We have also highlighted concerns with the proposed method of auditing an area’s five year housing land supply which could see planning decisions being made on data almost two years out of date.
In the round however, we feel that these recommendations are a significant step forward and feel that, subject to proposed changes, that the Government should adopt the LPEG's recommendations in their entirety.