Prime minister tells councils to produce Local Plans

David Cameron has said councils must produce Local Plans for new homes in their area by 2017 or the government will intervene.

The prime minister repeated his message from last week’s Conservative Party conference, saying he wanted a “national crusade” to get homes built.

“Councils have a key role to play in this by drawing up their own Local Plans for new homes by 2017, but if they fail to act we’ll work with local people to produce a plan for them,” he added.

Mr Cameron was speaking ahead of the publication of the Housing Bill, which will set out how the government will meet its ambition of building one million homes by 2020.

The bill will also place a new legal duty on councils to guarantee the delivery of the government’s so-called ‘starter homes’ initiative for first-time buyers under the age of 40.

Local authorities will also be able to bid for a share of a £10m Starter Homes fund – part of a £36m package to accelerate the delivery of the initiative, helping councils prepare otherwise unused brownfield sites for starter homes.

Further measures expected to be outlined in the bill include granting automatic planning permissions in principle on brownfield sites and the extension of the office-to-residential permitted development rights, which allows teh conversion of disused offices into homes without applying for planning permission.

British Property Federation chief executive Melanie Leech said the government was being “fairly punchy” with its reforms, adding that its changes to local plans were “potentially game-changing”.

But she added: “There are two things that government must not forget in its headlong pursuit of creating new homes, however.

“One is that homes for owner-occupation are not the only option.

“The build-to-rent sector has the potential to deliver a huge number of additional homes and to drive up standards in the rental sector, and must not be disregarded in favour of homes for sale – there is room for both.”

The government has also set up a new website, which lays out the different schemes available for people looking to buy a property.