Emma Reynolds MP at the National Planning Forum said that Local Plans should be statutory and if you didn’t have one by the end of 2016 the government would intervene and give the job to PINS.
This won’t legally work. PINS would be judge and jury in this case. The reason we have independent local plan examinations in the first place is largely because of because of article 1 of protocol 1 of the ECHR and the right for a fair hearing when that right is interfered with guaranteed by Article 6. It is very doubtful whether or not PINS examining a PINS plan would be ‘an independent and impartial tribunal within reasonable time’ under this article. Besides it would be contrary to common law and rather a rather distasteful charade.
Who else, PINs is the obvious candidate however they are an arm of IDEA which is an arm of the LGA, so the government would be giving it back to local government, and it interferes with the fundamental advisory role of PINS.
How to deal with the issue – a supplier framework as for neighbour hood plans awards would be a possibility. Another [possibility is a National Town Planning Agency (which might have a range of tasks in any labour led government). The key issue for this is governance, would any meetings where a minister decides be public, as ministers currently insist local government meetings are? Would ministers at least have hearings from local government and other experts to advise them and would these be public? Its possible but difficult and needs to be carefully thought through. I would not envy a minister which potentially would have to take on deciding site by site on dozens of local plan sites for dozens of local plans. Given the SoS workload already I think DCLG would have to take on a couple of extra junior ministers just to get the job done.