A government amendment to the Housing & Planning Bill could mean that combined authorities, or the London mayor, taking over the preparation of local plans from councils in their area if they are too slow in getting one to adoption.
The measure could be a way of "bashing heads together and so overcome some of the barriers to getting a local plan agreed", said Catriona Riddell, the Society's Strategic Planning Subject Specialist to a Planning magazine reporter. Riddell pointed out that in some districts plan-making had been stymied because authorities have not been able to agree on house-building targets across the housing market area. Intervention by a combined authority might help them to reach agreement, she explained.
Riddell also said that not all combined authorities would take on strategic planning functions and would therefore "not be in a position to draw up a local plan". The devolution deals being discussed do not all include the authorities drawing up a strategic framework for their sub-region, she pointed out. "If the combined authority does not have a strategic framework, it will not be in a position to draw up an effective local plan," she said.