Decisions regarding large planning applications within the Borough of Castle Point in Essex, could soon be taken by central Government after the Council fell behind on preparations of its local plan.

The authority needs to identify potential sites to accommodate 4,000 news homes, with a target deadline of November to finalise the plan. If they fail to meet this deadline then the Government will intervene.

Should intervention be required, the responsibility of creating the plan will be taken away from Castle Point Borough Council, and will be completed by the Secretary of State for Housing using feedback from neighbouring authorities at Southend, Rochford and Basildon.

Future decision making could also be passed on to a neighbouring authority. Decisions would therefore be beyond the control of Castle Point and potentially people with no local knowledge would decide what gets built and where in the borough.

Should the Government make the local plan then any planning application relating to the local plan would be decided by the Planning Inspectorate directly rather than through Castle Point’s development control committee.

A cabinet report states that “In terms of decision-taking, the Government will wish to make certain after intervention that the statutory development plan and policies for the borough will be implemented and will not allow the local plan once agreed to be frustrated by the development control process”.

It goes on to say “Consequently as the borough council had no role in the preparation of the plan, indications are that the Secretary of State will exercise powers available to him to direct that any strategic planning applications submitted will be referred to the planning inspectorate directly rather than the borough council, to ensure that the plan and its policies are correctly implemented”.

“The borough council through the development control committee will not be involved in implementation of the statutory development plan and the council’s ability to take decisions locally on strategic planning applications will be lost”.

It is also feared that Basildon Council could face similar intervention by the Government on its local plan.

18 September 2018