The Member of Parliament for Eastleigh, Mims Davies, has recognised action proposed by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Sajid Javid, which could see his Department intervene on the failure of the Council to produce a Local Plan that has the support of the local community.
The move follows several warnings from the Secretary of State to Eastleigh Borough Council, including in November 2016, when responding to a question from the Member of Parliament for Eastleigh, he said:
“My hon. Friend is right: ancient woodland is an irreplaceable habitat. The national planning policy framework is clear that ‘planning permission should be refused for development resulting in the loss or deterioration of irreplaceable habitats, including ancient woodland’, unless there are very exceptional circumstances.”
“However, without a Local Plan, local people do not have the certainty they need. Once again, my hon. Friend has demonstrated that Eastleigh Borough Council is letting its residents down.”
Commenting, Mims Davies said:
“I have long been calling upon Eastleigh Borough Council to get on and produce a well-supported Local Plan, so that my constituents can have confidence in their important role as our local planning authority. 92% of local authorities have now completed a Local Plan, however, Eastleigh Borough Council is still not among that number.”
“This has had a direct impact upon our local area, its infrastructure, and therefore upon the lives of my constituents. Instead of benefitting from a clearly set-out plan which sets out where development can, and cannot take place, based upon the views of local residents, we instead have witnessed the onslaught of approval of speculative applications time and time again under the current administration at Eastleigh Borough Council.”
“This Government is committed to decisions being made at the most local level, and has continued to give greater powers to communities and local councillors. Local Plans play an important role in that work, and it is right that those Councils that are not allowing their communities to benefit from that devolution of power must be taken to task.”
Adding, the Leader of the Conservative Group at Eastleigh Borough Council, Judith Grajewski said:
"Eastleigh Borough Council has failed in its duty as the local planning authority to make a Local Plan in a timely manner and failed to listen to local residents. I take no pleasure in seeing us move a step closer toward the responsibility for making a Plan taken away from the Council. However, the last Plan expired in 2011 and millions of pounds of taxpayers' money has been spent on failing to get a new Plan in place. This financial year alone, the Council has OVER spent by £1 million on the Local Plan. It seems right that the Secretary of State is now holding Eastleigh Borough Council to account."
Eastleigh Borough Council is among just 15 local planning authorities that have been written to by the Secretary of State, who has given those local authorities until the 31st January 2018 to outline any exceptional circumstances which, in their view, justifies their failure to produce a Local Plan under the Planning and Compulsory Purchase 2004 Act regime.