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Goverment could intervene in housebuilding plans of 15 local authorities, including Thanet

By Paul Francis

The government has told Thanet council it could intervene in the authority’s house-building plans saying it is not doing enough to tackle the housing shortage.

Minister Sajid Javid has said the government is poised to directly intervene in the housebuilding plans of 15 local authorities - including Thanet.

He has put the authority “on notice” and warned that a lack of sufficient progress will “no longer be tolerated” by his department.

Sajid Javid

Mr Javid said they had until the end of January 2018 to put forward their housebuilding plans.

In a written statement to the Commons, Mr Javid said that not enough has been done by some local authorities in planning for the homes they need.

He said: “I am particularly concerned about the 15 local planning authorities that have recently either failed the duty to cooperate or failed to meet the deadlines set out in their Local Development Schemes, the public timetable that all local planning authorities are required to put in place.”

He added the councils in question were “on notice that consistent failure to make sufficient progress will no longer be tolerated. My Department will begin formally considering the case for intervention as deadlines are missed.”

The council is currently consulting on its Local Plan - a process which is set to end in six weeks.

It recently proposed a key change, earmarking the former Manston site for homes and businesses.

In September, the government announced plans to force councils to increase their house-building targets where there were shortages of affordable homes.

The move to impose higher building targets put councils on a collision course with the government and has caused friction with MPs.

Karen Constantine

The new targets were condemned by environmental groups who have complained bitterly that they will put even more pressure on Kent’s countryside.

In Thanet’s case, the target would rise to 1,063 homes a year from 857.

In a short statement, the council said: “We will be reviewing the Secretary of State’s letter, and will be responding to him in due course. Leader Councillor Wells has not yet received any correspondence from Sajid Javid or his office.”

Labour spokesman Cllr Karen Constantine said the blame lay with the council’s change of mind over Manston.

“Manston now seriously threatens to derail our long overdue local plan - leaving the way clear for the Government to step in and decide what housing will be built, how many and where.”

“This almost certainly will be a disaster. Land will be found regardless of it being green belt and regardless of local wishes and with no recourse to local knowledge. Whitehall officials will decide. This will certainly guarantee an increase in the number of homes built.”

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