Headlines: July 22nd, 2003

The Local Government Association has questioned plans for what it calls “heavy handed intervention by central government” in cases where councils are failing to make planning decisions within target times. The association says the proposals will not deliver much needed housing.It says the idea will not achieve the kind of sustainable communities that both local and central government want to see. What is needed is a partnership approach between central and local government, which must address infrastructure investment and the government’s role in funding transport and other public services.

The association also claims that the statistics to illustrate local authorities’ performance against the targets for the period to March 2003 do not take account of the new funding from the Planning Delivery Grant as this was not available until April 2003. It supports the drive for improved performance but says the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister must recognise that the additional resources have only been distributed to councils in the past few months. The Association says it agrees that the need to meet housing targets, especially in areas experiencing high demand and acute housing pressures, is important but local planning authorities are not the main barriers to development

It says a large proportion of sites are available but are not coming forward because of lack of infrastructure and investment to develop, which raises fundamental issues around how local authorities can achieve the appropriate housing provision in their areas.