Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Councils unable to appeal special measures

Councils placed under special measures if they are not deemed to be building enough housing will not be able to appeal the decision, the planning minister said last night.

Nick Boles told a select committee that he hoped only a few local authorities would end up under supervision so it would be the exception rather than the rule.

‘They can take the decision to a [judicial review],’ he said, ‘but there is no process of appeal.’

The decision to allow developers to approach the Planning Inspectorate directly if councils are deemed to be underperforming in terms of development was announced alongside a raft of house building measures in September.

Clive Betts, chair of the Communities and Local Government select committee, said it was the first time he had heard that councils would not be able to appeal any claims that they are not building enough.

Mr Boles said last night that he would publish criteria for councils to ensure they are meeting a required level of house building under the new planning regime.

‘We’re looking at the precise details,’ he said. He also denied that the Planning Inspectorate needs more resources to deal with an expected increase in appeals.

Mr Boles also denied that the government was moving back towards a more centralised system, and compared local authorities to schools. ‘They are allowed to stand on their own two feet until they fail,’ he said.

‘We want to be able to back off – I would love to put the Planning Inspectorate out of business – if local authorities were always making decisions quickly and in accordance with their own priorities,’ he added.

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