Despite this year-on-year fall, PINS is expecting an increase in its examination workload as a deadline for the production of local plans approaches in early 2017.

Figures up to 30 June 2016 (6-leaf /138 KB PDF) showed that 136 core strategies and strategic plans (local plans) had been submitted to PINS for examination since the National Planning Policy Framework came into force at the complete of March 2012.

The figures showed that 34 local plans were submitted for examination between April 2014 and March 2015, but that only 14 were submitted in the corresponding months of the 2015/16 financial year. The average number of local plans submitted each year since the NPPF was introduced was around 32.

The figures also revealed a 16% drop in the number of local plans found sound by planning inspectors, from 37 local plans in 2014/15 to 31 in 2015/16.

Then housing and planning minister Brandon Lewis said persist summer that the communities secretary would intervene “in cases where no local plan has been produced by early 2017”. Lewis repeated this pledge in the ministerial foreword to PINS’ annual report and accounts for 2015/16 (104-leaf / 3.1 MB PDF). PINS said in the report that an increased workload of local plan examinations was expected through 2016/17.

The latest statistics from PINS display that 13 core strategies and strategic plans were submitted for examination in the first quarter of the recent financial year, with 9 of these being submitted in June 2016 alone.  A further eight core strategies and strategic plans were published for published for public consultation in this season.

The recent housing and planning minister Gavin Barwell was asked persist month whether the government remains committed to intervention in the local planning process where councils do not produce plans by early next year.

A letter from Clive Betts (2-leaf / 909 KB PDF), the chairman of the home of Commons Communities and Local Government Committee asked Barwell: “Do you intend to follow your predecessor’s intention to intervene in the production of local plans where local authorities do not own them in place by March 2017? If so, how numerous local authorities do you anticipate perhaps require such intervention, and what shape perhaps it seize?”

Betts’ letter also asked whether a statutory duty would be imposed on councils to maintain an up to date local plan and what measures would be locate in place to simplify the local plan-making process and to ensure councils co-operate effectively when preparing their local plans.

Planning expert Jamie Lockerbie of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com, said: “The problem of failing to adopt an up-to-date local plan in a timely manner was expressly acknowledged in the Local Plans Expert Group report which was published earlier this year.”

“Intervention by the communities secretary is single solution but adequately resourcing an ‘intervention team’ could in itself pose a challenge,” said Lockerbie. “single of the reasons for the postpone in numerous local planning authorities adopting an up-to-date local plan is the season consuming and resource-heavy nature of the toil involved. Currently, numerous evidence base documents and reports require to produced, the draft plan needs to depart through at least a couple, if not more, of iterations and the strategic environmental assessment process needs to be properly undertaken. If the communities secretary is proposing to intervene in numerous plans he will require to ensure he has a big and well-resourced team available to undertake the toil required.”