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Leading land broker Aston Mead is advising councils without up-to-date local housing plans in place to act quickly before the Government steps in to write their plans for them.

Local authorities have been given until March 2017 to produce a local plan in accordance with the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), which was introduced in 2012. However, with less than a year to go, recent research suggests that fewer than a third of local planning authorities outside London have an up-to-date NPPF-compliant plan.

Aston Mead Land & Planning Director Adam Hesse said: “It’s absolutely incredible that with the deadline looming large on the horizon, so few councils have got their act together. By next year they will have had five years since the introduction of the NPPF – and yet the vast majority have still to come up with the goods.

“They have already been warned that if they fail to do so the Government will intervene to arrange for the plan to be written for them, in consultation with local people. What’s more, they have also been told that if they have not kept the policies in their local plan up-to-date, they will be a high priority for intervention".

The research, carried out by consultancy Nathaniel Lichfield & Partners, identified 21 local planning authorities most at risk of intervention – the majority of which are in the metropolitan green belt around London. They include Brentwood, Chelmsford, Epping Forest, Rochford and Uttlesford in Essex; Epsom & Ewell, Guildford, Mole Valley, Tandridge and Waverley in Surrey; East Hertfordshire and Three Rivers in Hertfordshire; Hart and New Forest in Hampshire; and Sevenoaks and Tonbridge and Malling in Kent. Others include Buckinghamshire councils South Buckinghamshire and Wycombe, as well as Derbyshire Dales, Oxford, and Windsor and Maidenhead.

Adam Hesse added: “Already we’re working with individuals in these areas, who have discovered that it’s much easier getting planning permission on greenbelt land accepted by authorities without a local plan in place.

“But local councils should act quickly. There are even proposals to withhold a financial reward known as the ‘New Homes Bonus’ from councils which fail to produce a local plan in time – so together they could lose millions in payouts. And ultimately no council worth its salt wants to have its planning policy dictated by Westminster.”



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