Government Admits Levelling Up Bill and End of Duty to Cooperate will lead to delay of Three Years to Local Plans

Dorset Cabinet

“We received an unprecedented 9,000 responses to our consultation on the draft Dorset Council Local Plan. In summary, respondents told us we should:

  • Challenge the housing numbers – they should reflect needs of Dorset, not blindly follow a government calculation and not include housing for BCP Council

That the adoption of the new Dorset Council Local Plan is expected in 2026. This gives us more time to develop the plan. (Previously we were aiming for adoption in 2023/4)

We have asked for Dorset to be a pilot for a new national approach to local plans being introduced through revised national policy and legislation. This will allow Dorset to take advantage of the improvements we fully expect to be enacted, including a genuinely plan-led system that has been shaped by engagement with our communities, make use of support from Government and where development accords with what the plan sets out, streamlined processes and a national suite of development management policies.

As part of this, the Government is planning to remove the ‘duty to cooperate’ which currently requires us to take account of unmet needs that our neighbouring authorities such as that BCP Council cannot deliver. The changes will mean Dorset can focus on a strategy that is right for us in meeting our needs

This is very odd as the guidance notes on the Bill stated the DTC would be replaced ‘a more flexible alignment test set out in national policy (see below)’.

‘Local plans, including minerals and waste plans, will also continue to be assessed for whether they are ‘sound’ at examination, but we will review whether the current tests are sufficiently proportionate as part of the work to update the National Planning Policy Framework, detailed below.’

So one assumed the test would be similar to the current ‘positively prepared’ test and Jonanna Averly and colleagues have hinted as such at online seminars. One also assumed that if targets stayed (a big if) that the line about meeting unmet need from neighboring areas would remain? However Gove has said in Parliament that the problem with the DTC is that it caused overspill, err Govy that was the entire point,to ensure unmet need would be met somnewhere. So now a bunfight on unmet need at every local plan examination, a bun fight at every local plan examination on claculating housing need and nubers. just as per pickles and just as in 2012 an on average 3 year delay to local plans across the country, regardless of whether Truss or Sunak get in as they both are now pandering to Nimby Cllr biases not those of the swing electorate. We can all look forward to 2025 when as I predict on the Gove-Prescott cycle there will be a another screaming uturn as a result of predictable collapse of plan adoption and housing numbers in local plans.

If I was at the HBF or Natfed letter now id be writing an outraged letter. Are you now going to let every local plan be 3 years late? What have you agreed? . Even before consultation on national policy on housing. Isnt this predetermination. Can any smoke filled deal with a sacked Sos be binding?