THE Government is to intervene in determining where new homes should be built in Wirral after it accused the council of failing to produce a local development plan.

Under The Planning Act of 2004, local councils are required to have a clear 'local plan' for development, clearly stating the areas which were to be protected and conserved, such as the Green Belt, and those areas which would be considered for development for housing and commercial use.

Wirral was one of 15 local authorities identified as failing to produce a local plan.

In a letter this week Sajid Javid MP Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, notified Council leader Phil Davies that Government intervention has begun.

The Government’s Chief Planner and a team of experts will be sent in to assess if the Government needs to take over the process of producing the local plan.

Housing Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Whilst most councils rightly recognise their responsibilities and most have worked hard to meet the housing challenge, some have failed.

"I expect those authorities we identified in November to continue to make progress.

"I'm also stepping it up with three councils in particular, sending in a team of experts to make a direct assessment, ensuring they plan properly for the future or we’ll have to do it for them."

Wirral Council, Leader Phil Davies said: "Sajid Javid and his Tory colleagues are dead wrong.

"It is for Wirral residents through Wirral Council to determine what our housing needs are and where new homes should be built.

"We neither welcome nor appreciate the Secretary of State's overtly political intervention."

Liverpool Council is one of four that have since published their plans. Mr Javid has welcome this progress, but made it clear that should there be any further significant delays to their timetable to submit the plan, the Government will not hesitate to act.

Council leader Phil Davies continued: "I doubt very much Steve Rotheram and our colleagues in the Liverpool City Region welcome being used as a pawn in the Government's continued attack on local authorities.

"If Sajid Javid is in disagreement with us and his own civil servants about our current Local Plan schedule, he is entitled to his opinion - but Wirral is not going to accept Whitehall bureaucrats coming up and telling us we must meet the Tory central government targets for building on our Green Belt.

"We have said repeatedly we want to see extant permissions acted upon and brownfield developments like the ones just announced at Wirral Waters actioned first.

"Wirral's housing needs are not the same as Central London or the South East.

"We need a mix of affordable homes, first-time buyer homes and housing for families and an ageing population across the borough.

"Wirral alone should decide how best to achieve that, Tory ministers are not needed."

Oxton Liberal Democrat councillor and member of Wirral planning committee Stuart Kelly said: “This is a massive humiliation for Cllr Phil Davies and the ruling Labour group.

"The Government has decided to go ahead with intervention on Local Plan after Wirral Council failed to demonstrate a single 'special circumstance' that may have delayed producing a Local Plan to guide development in the borough.

"There has been a complete failure of leadership and strategic management at Wirral Council the decision of the secretary of State means they have lost control over planning policies.

"The Labour leader has his head in the clouds with dreams of golf resorts and growth companies but is still failing to get the basics right"

Ian Lewis, leader of Wirral's Conservative group, said: "Wirral’s Labour Council has failed, for 14 years, to come up with a plan to protect our Green Belt. They have known they were on borrowed time.

"No doubt this explains the sudden rush to allow Green Belt at Saughall Massie and Hoylake to go for development.

"Almost every other council in the country – Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrat – has managed to produce a plan.

"All we get from the this Council is excuses – what next? The dog ate Councillor Davies’ homework?"