If local planning authorities simply wish to prevent development NIMTO (not in my term of office) there is plenty of opportunity for them to do so in the current hiatus and irrespective of the proposals for a ‘presumption in favour of sustainable development/default yes’ there are several tactics open to them.
I have had my suspicions about a lot of local authorities but some authorities are openly doing so.
Tactic 1, Progress plan but dont adopt following examination – the Coventry case highlighted this. There was a change of administration and the new administration decided to sit on its hands. There is no requirement to adopt under the act, the regs or the localism bill, rather they ‘may’ adopt. Sit on your hands, no new homes bonus but if your NIMTO you cant be bought off.
Tactic 2, Let your neighbours progress their development plans but either dont progress yours or co-opoerate with them but disagree and publish an incompatible plan. The Stevenage/North Herts and Oxford cases. This applies to strategic sites or authorities performing a wider growth function for an area. If your a ‘receiver’ and dont want to be you can again sit on your hands. The duty to cooperate in the localism bill means you will have to be positive and turn up to meetings but the duty to cooperate is not a duty to agree – if you are stubborn you can scupper your ‘partners’ plans because they they then become udeliverable. The localism bill contains no provisions for resolving this. Statutory joint planning commitees are permissive powers and their is no power for the SoS to set up statutory joint committees and define LA members in default. This ommission has been pointed out the dept for many years but they have taken no action, so at this rate they never will. Take advantage sit on your hands.
Tactic 3, Roll forward your old low and out of date 5 year requirement from the existing local development plan. The method statement on trajectories has been withdrawn from the PINS site following the letter putatively (and illegally) from the SoS abolishing RSSs. In two recovered appeals in Cornwall the SoS has simply rolled forward the old local (non RSS) numbers. Now there is some difficulty here following Cala II. RSS remains until after SEA on revocation, you cant hold proposed revocation as a material consideration in pushing forward your core strategy, on planning applications though it can ‘exceptionally’ be material. The key here is to stall, refuse and hope any appeal gets called in so either the SoS can use this get out, or the decision is made after RSS revocation if it ever happens.
Tactic 4, Ensure you approve just enough housing to keep your old 5 year supply, even on unallocated sites. Make a few decisions on the least bad sites to do so. Following the above recommendations you are at risk of having an even more out of date development plan. Under the NPPS there could be a ‘presumption in favour of development’ dont worry if you maintain a 5 year supply you should still be able to refuse and have the decision upheld by the SoS on a recovered S78 appeal whatever one of those troublesome independent inspectors says. If you have a 5 year supply it will be hard for developers the plan is out of date, even if the 5 year target was set 15 years ago, as the SoS is abolishing/revoking all of the powers to ensure 5 year supplies are kept up to date and all of the audit requirements of councils that fail to do so.
In short just ignore all of that rhetoric of the government about housebuilding increasing. Thats just to keep Osbourne and Cable happy. As you can see Pickles, Clarke and Schapps have designed a system of masterful slothfulness and inertia designed to ensure that NIMTO councillors everywhere are pleased. One where those troublesome plans, the updating of which causes so much controversy, just doesn’t happen.