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Housing minister Sajid Javid warning to Thanet Council

By Paul Francis

Housing minister Sajid Javid has said Thanet council will not get special treatment over its failure to publish its Local Plan and he may intervene to take control.

The council failed to endorse its draft plan after councillors were split in a vote over the future use of the former Manston airport site.

There have been reports the government has indicated it is prepared to give Thanet council more time to make changes to its plan to allow for the Manston site to be assigned for some kind of aviation use.

The Manston Airport runway
The Manston Airport runway

Currently, the plan has earmarked the site for 2,500 homes alongside business developments but the vote not to endorse it has left the council in limbo.

The government had already identified the council as one of a group of authorities that were warned to have their plan in place by the end of January.

If they did not, ministers said they could take control and determine house-building targets.

Housing minister Sajid Javid did not rule out stepping in.

Speaking on a visit to Sevenoaks, he rejected claims the government had agreed to an extended deadline to enable the Manston site to be designated for aviation use.

“There is no special treatment for any council.

"They [Thanet] have sent us a response but it has only been a few days and we are going to consider it carefully and then decide what is the next best step.”

Communities secretary Sajid Javid
Communities secretary Sajid Javid

Asked if he would be intervening to take over the council’s Local Plan, he said: “I don’t want to prejudge anything but I want to look carefully at what the council has said and once we have done that, we’ll make a decision.

“But our message to all councils is that it is the right thing to do to plan for the number of homes that your community needs and if you are not doing that, you are letting down local people.”

He sidestepped a question about whether he had discussed the possibility of an extended deadline with the area’s MPs Sir Roger Gale and Craig Mackinlay.

The row over the plan centres on the long-running wrangle over the future for the Manston site.

Council leader Chris Wells has faced but resisted calls from some of his own group to stand aside as leader.

The council said that following the vote to reject the plan, it was putting out a fresh “call for sites” for housing development.

In a statement, the authority said it was doing so as there was now “a requirement to identify additional locations for housing across the district in order to achieve required land supply.?”

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