THE Government is starting moves to take over the long-delayed Local Plan from York council, prompting heavy criticism from York’s Labour MP.

Local Plans should set out where new homes and businesses can be built over the next 15 years, but York has missed a Government-set deadline of early 2017.

City of York Council now has until the end of January to justify its failure to produce a plan so far, after Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said he was concerned about 15 local authorities - including York - which still do not have a plan in place.

In a speech in Bristol today, the minister said: “Whilst some councils are recognising their responsibilities and stepping up to meet the housing challenge, too many are still not acting.”

Council bosses now have until January 31 to put forward any exceptional circumstances, and a written ministerial statement yesterday added that authorities which are not making enough progress are “on notice” that consistent failure will not be tolerated.

City of York Council's Conservative and Liberal Democrat leaders have pointed to delays caused by the announcement of barracks closures in York, and insisted they are on course to deliver a sound plan by May.

Leader Cllr David Carr said: “We’re making very good progress to deliver a Local Plan which is right for York – one which provides the homes and employment opportunities we need while protecting our city’s greenbelt and special character.

“We rightly reviewed the plan after the Ministry of Defence’s announcement over the future of three very large sites, and consulted once again listen to views from across York."

Lib Dem councillors rejected the accusation the authority has “failed to cooperate”, and said they had been working tirelessly to create a Local Plan that is right for the York.

However the announcement has brought criticism from Labour councillors, who say they warned this could happen.

York Central MP Rachael Maskell has gone further, saying the ruling councillors have neglected serious problems like economic development, infrastructure and congestion.

She said: “The Government has said that there is a national housing crisis and with York house prices 9.6 times greater than average earnings, there is an urgent need to deliver a Plan for York that brings genuinely affordable homes for residents.

“I have persistently raised my serious concern about the contempt by which this Tory and Lib Dem Coalition have treated the housing needs of the people of our city.

“It is clear that this coalition are not fit to run our city.”

Cllr Carr in turn accused the previous Labour led administration of “making a mess” of the Local Plan, and risking the city becoming a “dormitory suburb” with its policies.

“For Rachael Maskell to moan about the lack of affordable housing whilst campaigning against every possible housing development site in her York Central constituency is laughable beyond parody,” he added.