Council under fire for housing plan ‘failure’ needs £55k-a-year planning manager

A council criticised by Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove for failing to produce a housing plan in good time is on the lookout for a planning manager with a salary of as much as £55,309 per year.

Castle Point Borough Council is looking for a new planning manager who will be pivotal in “shaping and delivering high-quality developments”.

The council says the individual will also contribute to the new ‘Castle Point Plan’, building new relationships and supporting the development in housing and regeneration in the borough.”

The council was one of seven authorities in England, three of which were in Essex, which Mr Gove ‘named and shamed’ during a Department for Levelling-Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) speech at the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) on December 19 for their “consistent under-performance” in housing development and failure to have an adopted local plan.

The council has said that the authority’s current position is “not justified or sustainable”, but that the administration “will not do less than a thorough job” when submitting a new local plan.

The new planning manager position comes with a salary of between £48,474 to £55,309 per year and will be instrumental in producing a local plan that will determine where thousands of houses cold be built over the next decade or more.

The council says responsibilities include providing “development management input” into the preparation of the Castle Point Plan and supplementary planning guidance, as well as the preparation of new residential Design Guidance, site planning briefs and master plans.

A draft version of the local plan to determine where thousands of homes should be built in Castle Point is set to be ready by the end of this year – although the risk of intervention from the Government remains high.

He added that the council aims to submit a final version by April 2025 – two months earlier than the deadline set by the government.

In his letter to council leader Dave Blackwell (Canvey Island Independent Party, Canvey Island Central), Mr Gove said: “Your council’s persistent failure to adopt a local plan has left your communities vulnerable to speculative development and has risked not delivering the economic growth and infrastructure they need.”

In a response letter, approved in a cabinet meeting on January 17, both Cllr Blackwell and deputy leader Councillor Warren Gibson (People’s Independent Party, Victoria), wrote that they “strongly reiterate that the council is on track to deliver a new local plan” under the current system, which has a deadline of June 2025.

The leaders acknowledged that the council’s current position without an adopted local plan is “not justified or sustainable, and goes completely against the grain of the objectives of the administration of this council”.

However, due to the plan which was withdrawn proving to be “deeply unpopular and non-adoptable”, it was made clear that “only a new plan will afford the council the strongest possible position to defend against inappropriate development.

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Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter