"I can assure residents that Haringey Council’s Local Plan still takes precedence in planning decisions.... Haringey Liberal Democrats are being wilfully misleading." Cllr Joseph Ejiofor, Leader of Haringey Council
Haringey Liberal Democrats have made a bogus claim that Haringey Council has had its planning powers curbed and lost local control of planning policies. This claim is completely untrue; housebuilding and local planning is so important to residents because it is one of the major ways we can shape our borough and build a fairer Haringey, so it’s important to set the record straight.
Cllr Joseph Ejiofor, Labour Leader of Haringey Council said, “I want there to be no misunderstandings. I can assure residents that Haringey Council’s Local Plan still takes precedence in planning decisions. The council has not had its planning powers curbed because it has failed to meet housing targets. Haringey Liberal Democrats are being wilfully misleading, and I find it shameful that elected representatives would misinform the public on such an important local issue during a pandemic.
“Bewilderingly, the Lib Dems (like Labour) have a policy of opposing Presumption in Favour of Sustainable Development because it sets targets for the private sector to build homes and then seeks to punish councils if these homes are not then built. In response to their astonishing claims, I ask Haringey Lib Dems to get acquainted with their own party policy.
“Councils have power to grant planning permission for building housing. Once this is done, it is beholden on private developers to meet housing targets. While meeting housing targets is outside of the direct control of the Council, Haringey certainly uses every tool at our disposal to boost housing delivery and ensure developers hold up their end of the bargain.
“I’m proud that, as of 2020, that over 4500 homes with planning permission are being built in our borough, and planning permission for a further 3700 homes has been granted but building work has not yet commenced – incidentally, many of these developments were opposed by Haringey Lib Dems.
“Haringey Council continues to do everything within its power to deliver housing for our residents. We are on target to have an additional 1,000 council homes at council rents by 2023. Blame for under delivery can be laid solely at the feet of private developers, once again backing up Haringey Labour’s call to bring Council services back in house to empower local authorities and local communities.
“I am disappointed. Haringey Lib Dems know the facts yet have resorted to political chicanery, blaming the Council for a clear failure of the private sector, where developers are failing to deliver new homes for our residents.”
Haringey has NOT lost control of local planning
- Council officers briefed Regulatory Committee on Thursday 14 January within the Quarter 3 Update report www.minutes.haringey.gov.uk/mgAi.aspx?ID=67309
- Those Members attending (here) received the above linked report and verbal briefing from officers
- Officers at this meeting clearly stated “Policies in the development plan will continue to have primacy in decision making” – which is not “lost control of our planning policies” as the their press release suggests
- The statement “had its planning powers curbed” and “lost control of our planning policies” is a misleading exaggeration – this does not reflect the professional officer advice provided in the Regulatory Committee meeting linked above
- The PIFSD is defined in paragraph 11 of the National Planning Policy Framework which states in this case it means “granting permission unless:
- the application of policies in the NPPF that protect areas or assets of particular importance provides a clear reason for refusing the development proposed; or
- any adverse impacts of doing so would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits, when assessed against the policies in the NPPF taken as a whole”
The Housing Delivery Test and the Presumption in Favour of Sustainable Development in Haringey
- The spreadsheet shows that over 1 in 6 English authorities and 7 other London boroughs (Enfield, Redbridge, Barking & Dagenham, Havering, Tower Hamlets, Southwark, and Kensington and Chelsea) are in the same situation as Haringey https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/housing-delivery-test-2020-measurement
- The law still says any determination on a planning application must be made in accordance with the development plan unless material considerations indicate otherwise” meaning that the development plan/Local Plan still takes precedence
- Following a recent appeal against Haringey Council’s refusal of planning permission, a national planning inspector’s decision in February, after the PIFSD took effect, stated that “the conflict with the policies still carries significant weight in this instance” which has confirmed that the council’s development plan / Local Plan policies still carry significant weight and we have not “lost control of our planning policies” as the below press release suggests
Holding developers accountable and boosting housing delivery
- The Housing Delivery Test Action Plan was approved by Cabinet in July 2020 https://www.haringey.gov.uk/housing-delivery-test-action-plan
- The Council recently completed its ‘First Steps’ engagement on a New Local Plan www.haringey.gov.uk/newlocalplan which will further set out how we will meet housing targets, including for affordable housing
- Ensuring the Council’s Brownfield Land Register is kept up to date to enable developers to clearly see where suitable development opportunities lie www.haringey.gov.uk/planning-and-building-control/planning/planning-policy/localism/brownfield-register
- Maintaining the Council’s excellent Development Management performance as one of the top performing authorities in London through ongoing training and development, and further engagement with developers and agents
Liberal democrats explicitly state that it is not within the power of councils to ensure homes are built:
- F17: Opposing the Government ‘Power Grab’ motion as passed by Liberal Democrat conference in Autumn 2020: libdems.org.uk/f17-emergency
- Cllr Adele Morris, LGA Liberal Democrat Group said “We would therefore suggest that it is not the councils or the communities that are at fault, it is the developers and landowners who have been allowed to inflate their prices to create undeliverable schemes or sit on land for an increased “hope value” when they resell.” http://www.pas.gov.uk/lga-libdem-group/our-press-releases/response-consultation-planning-future-white-paper
- Baroness Thornhill says: “Councils are now not only responsible for the delivery of homes in their area; they get punished if they fail to do so, including through the removal of their planning powers. Yet councils—this is the rub—have zero powers to ensure that planning permissions, once granted, are built out. In fact, none of the eight interventions that the Government suggest in the relevant planning guidance pertain to the delivery of homes after planning permission. Can the Minister assure me that this test and its effectiveness will be looked at specifically in the forthcoming planning White Paper? You do not fatten a pig by weighing it.” https://www.parallelparliament.co.uk/mp/baroness-thornhill/debate/lords/2020-03-18/debates/EE247319-26EA-41CD-A836-0AAD146BF7BB/HousingDeliveryTest
- Tim Farron, Liberal Democrat Housing, Communities and Local Government Spokesperson: “..the Conservatives’ planning power grab will disempower local people and local authorities alike, and lead to even fewer affordable homes being built.” https://www.libdemvoice.org/27-september-2020-day-3-conference-press-releases-65995.html
- Page 5 of this Liberal Democrat policy paper states: “The new method of calculating housing need using ONS figures, the introduction of the housing delivery test to punish local authorities for not delivering their housing numbers (despite the fact that it is mostly caused by stalled sites, rather than a lack of permissions granted) and the need to revisit local plan housing numbers on a five year basis mean that planners are under immense pressure from central Government.” https://www.local.gov.uk/sites/default/files/documents/6.86%20-%20Lib%20Dem%20planning%20booklet%20for%20party%20conference_04.pdf