The leader of St Albans City and District Council has responded to concerns raised by the government about delays in the completion of its new Local Plan.

Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, asked the council last year to explain why it was behind schedule in producing a new plan to identify land for housing and other building developments from 2020 to 2036.

He gave the council – along with 14 other local authorities that were in a similar position – a deadline of Wednesday, January 31 to respond.

Mr Javid has powers to send in his own team from Whitehall or ask other bodies to produce a Local Plan if he is not satisfied with the answers.

However, yesterday the council submitted its reply and detailed its current actions.

Council leader Alec Campbell said in his letter: “The council has quickly and proactively moved forward on producing a new Local Plan and on working jointly with its neighbouring councils.

“As such the council believes that it is the best body to progress a new plan swiftly.”

The council is now preparing a Local Plan for the period 2020 to 2036 and at this stage is seeking to allow for 14,608 new homes - a target that was set by the government.

A public consultation began earlier this month which asked the district’s 60,000 households for their views on the “major issues” involved.

This included locations for the new homes with parts of the Green Belt having to be included.

After the consultation finishes on Wednesday, February 21, all views will be taken into account while a draft of the new Local Plan is completed.

If all goes to schedule, it will be considered by full council in the summer and consulted on again in the autumn before being submitted to the government in March next year.

All of this has been set out in the letter to Mr Javid together with an account of how a previous draft local plan, proposed by the council in 2015, had to be abandoned.

A planning inspector found the council had not met its duty to co-operate with other local authorities in drawing up the plan.

That ruling was upheld in the High Court last year.

Cllr Mary Maynard, who represents Planning, said: “As a council, we have been putting a tremendous effort into producing a new Local Plan.

“We have had extensive discussions with neighbouring councils and taken on board their concerns and suggestions. We believe this will fully address the duty to cooperate issues that were found in the last plan. We have also kept both of the district’s MPs fully informed and involved in what we are doing.

“Furthermore, in drawing up a new Local Plan we are consulting on the difficult choices involved as a consequence of meeting the Government’s target of planning for more than 900 new homes a year.”

She added she expects Mr Javid will be "impressed" with the work the council is now doing to make up for lost time. 

“The response to the public consultation has exceeded all our expectations with more than 1,300 people having already given their views.

“I am confident that the Secretary of State will be impressed with the work we are undertaking and will give us the all clear to get on with the job.

“It’s far better that difficult and challenging decisions on the Local Plan are made by the residents’ locally-elected representatives rather than by Whitehall officials who will not have a passion or a real feel for the area.”

To view the Council’s response in full, visit:

To take part in the consultation on the Local Plan which runs until Wednesday, February 21, visit: