New powers allowing the government to force local authorities and county councils to work together and develop local plans is one of three new amendments that have been introduced to the Neighbourhood Planning Bill.
The other two amendments confirm that there would be a statutory duty to have a local plan in place and would enable the government to digitise local plans to make them easier for the public to access.
Construction News was invited to a briefing with housing minister Gavin Barwell at MIPIM UK, who said the amendments were an attempt to take the “confrontation” out of the planning system.
Local plans set out planning policies and provide a framework for development for the local area.
Mr Barwell said areas that did not have local plans in place were often subject to speculative development.
He said: “[The changes will give developers] a lot more certainty and local communities will have confidence that plans will go where they say they’re going to go.
“I won’t hesitate to take action where I think people are not taking the appropriate steps to get things done.”
However, he added: “I am not planning on using [the intervention powers] but their existence will focus minds and ensure that we get plans in place right across the country.”
The deadline for local authorities to get local plans in place is early next year.
Mr Barwell recognised there were other problems with the UK housebuilding market other than the planning system, which he said the government’s upcoming housing white paper would address.
Areas of focus for the white paper include utility companies’ performances and how they slow down development and what the developers can do to speed up building.
Mr Barwell referenced a “good agreement” between the government and the Home Builders Federation, which focused on transparency. He said under the terms, housebuilders have to give a timetable of a project’s build rate once they have been given planning permission.
The housing minister also confirmed that he had received a copy of the recently published Farmer Review.