Sajid Javid, the Secretary of State for Local Government, confirmed in a written statement to the House of Commons yesterday that he was minded to approve the proposal to create two new unitary authorities in Dorset.
The proposal will see the creation of one unitary authority consisting of Poole, Bournemouth and Christchurch and the second unitary authority made up of North Dorset, West Dorset, East Dorset, Purbeck, Weymouth and Portland (with each unitary being responsible for the functions currently carried out by Dorset County Council).
The final decision on Council reorganisation will not be made until the 8th January 2018 following a further period of consultation.
What will this mean for planning in Dorset?
With a number of Dorset Authorities currently undertaking a review of their respective Local Plans Chapman Lily Planning (CLP) await with interest the individual Council’s response to how yesterday’s announcement will impact on the timeframes for the reviews currently taking pace. There will also be a change to the make up of the Council’s 5 year housing land supply. CLP’s initial view is that the ‘duty to cooperate’ will prove to be critical owing to the tightly constrained geography of the conurbation of Poole, Bournemouth and Christchurch.
There will of course be a period of transition which is likely to see the consolidation and integration of back office and support systems which could impact on the delivery of planning services across Dorset.