Ashfield Council to submit housing plan within months following Michael Gove’s deadline

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Ashfield Council is due to submit a new housing plan in May after a deadline from Government minister Michael Gove.

The Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities last month threatened legal action against ‘underperforming’ councils who didn’t have a document for future developments.

The authority was one of seven name-checked in in Mr Gove’s speech as not having a local plan, with the previous version expiring more than a decade ago.

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He gave the councils until March to provide a timetable for when they would produce one, which Ashfield has now done.

Ashfield Council will submit its housing plan to the Government within monthsAshfield Council will submit its housing plan to the Government within months
Ashfield Council will submit its housing plan to the Government within months

All councils with planning powers are required to draw up documents setting out areas earmarked for future developments.

The council says it has approved more than 3,200 homes since 2019 despite the lack of a local plan.

However, Ashfield has had a troubled history with local plans.

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The Ashfield Independents scrapped the prevously-ruling Labour group’s draft plan when they took control of the authority in 2018.

Mr Gove said in December: “I’m taking steps to deal with under-performance in the planning system, and there is no greater failure than the failure to actually have a plan in place.

“I’m issuing a direction to seven of the worst authorities who have failed not just to adopt a plan but to submit one to examination since 2004.

“St Albans, Amber Valley, Ashfield, Medway, Uttlesford, Basildon and Castlepoint will all need to provide me with a plan timetable within 12 weeks.

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“Should they fail, I will consider further intervention to ensure a plan is put in place.”

Following this, Coun Jason Zadrozny (Ash Ind), Ashfield council leader, wrote to Mr Gove, saying his ‘rhetoric and actions are wholly unnecessary’.

He said: “Our draft local plan sets out an incredibly positive vision for the future of Ashfield.

"If approved, our plan will facilitate significant economic growth and also housing in the most sustainable and deliverable manner that is possible,” he said.

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“Our approach has not been helped by continual changes in Government planning policies and targets.”

The council approved a draft plan in November, and will undertake a final round of consultation before it is approved.

An update will be provided at cabinet on January 29.

The Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has been contacted for comment.