Two Derbyshire councils 'failing people', Government says
Two Derbyshire councils have hit back after the Government publicly criticised them for failing to produce important housing documents.
Bosses at North East Derbyshire District Council and Bolsover District Council have been told they have ten weeks to explain why they have not yet published Local Plans.
Ministers may even intervene to produce the statutory documents for the Labour-led authorities - which insist they are already addressing the matter.
A Local Plan sets out how and where a council expects to meet needs for new homes in the future and helps to guide decisions on planning applications.
In a speech, Sajid David, secretary of state for communities and local Government, named and shamed North East Derbyshire and Bolsover district councils as well as 13 other authorities for not having Local Plans.
The Conservative MP said: "No plan means no certainty for local people.
"It means piecemeal speculative development with no strategic direction, building on sites simply because they are there rather than because homes are needed on them.
"It means no coherent effort to invest in infrastructure.
"It means developers building the homes they want to sell rather than the homes communities actually need.
"By failing to plan, they (the councils) have failed the people they are meant to serve.
"They deserve better - and by stepping in now I'm doing all I can to ensure that they receive it."
According to Lee Rowley, the Conservative MP for North East Derbyshire, the fact there is no Local Plan in his constituency means speculative planning applications have been submitted - including on greenbelt land - against the wishes of residents.
Mr Rowley said: "I welcome the intervention from the Government to put pressure on North East Derbyshire District Council to finally adopt an up-to-date Local Plan.
"When I speak with residents on the doorstep or at public meetings, it's clear that our communities are distressed by the threat of inappropriate development and disappointed with the district council.
"This plan should have been in place years ago and the Government is rightly holding the district council to account for its failure, which has resulted in unnecessary threat to our greenbelt and green fields.
"Of course we need more housing in this country but it must be done with our local communities, not to them.
"The district council now needs to get the Local Plan in place urgently."
Councillor Martin Thacker, leader of the opposition at North East Derbyshire District Council, added: "The Government's intervention is a step in the right direction for residents in North East Derbyshire.
"We have a district council here which has demonstrated that it has enough housing land supply to meet demand for the next seven years.
"And yet, it's still allowing inappropriate, speculative planning applications to be considered because it hasn't adopted an up-to-date Local Plan."
A spokesman for North East Derbyshire and Bolsover district councils said: "We are aware of the comments from the Secretary of State and we have been and continue to be in dialogue with them over the delivery of our Local Plan."
The Bolsover District Council spokesman added: "We have a meeting scheduled with the Planning Inspectorate.
"We have also agreed a timetable at our planning committee where it was approved to adopt a new Local Plan by November 2018, subject to the Planning Inspectorate timetabling."