Local Plans

A Review of Local Plans and Housing Requirements, published by consultancy Nathaniel Lichfield & Partners in March 2015, found that 62 [out of a total of 126] local plans have been found sound following the introduction of the NPPF in March 2012, but that a third of these require an early review to assess issues of housing needs and supply.
The research also found that, of the 43 plans currently being considered, 14 have been put on hold, requiring modifications relating to housing numbers.
According to the study, a further 21 plans have been withdrawn after the introduction of the NPPF, with the main reason for withdrawal “being due to the inadequate provision of housing”.

Local Plans must be consistent with the principles and policies set out in the National Policy Planning Framework (NPPF) , including “the presumption in favour of sustainable development”.

The NPPF says that Local Plans should set out the strategic policies for the area and positively seek opportunities to meet the development needs of the area. They should be based on adequate, up-to-date and relevant evidence. They should seek opportunities to achieve each of the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development, and net gains across all three.

This link discusses the role of Local Plans.

20% of local planning authorities outside London have approved Local Plans, this puts them at risk from speculative developers who can apply “the presumption in favour of sustainable development” from the NPPF and get permission to build almost anywhere.

The NPPF was supposed to simplify the process but Local Plans are taking 40% more time than they used to. All plans have to be approved by Government appointed Planning Inspectors. Inspectors rely on inflated housing supply targets and Councils try to avoid them. Many plans get additional housing targets imposed on them.

Local Plans set out a vision and a framework for the future development of the area, addressing needs and opportunities in relation to housing, the economy, community facilities and infrastructure – as well as a basis for safeguarding the environment, adapting to climate change and securing good design. They are also a critical tool in guiding decisions about individual development proposals, as Local Plans (together with any neighbourhood plans that have been made) are the starting-point for considering whether applications can be approved. It is important for all areas to put an up to date plan in place to positively guide development decisions.

Crucially, Local Plans should:

  • plan positively for the development and infrastructure required in the area to meet the objectives, principles and policies of the NPPF;
  • be drawn up over an appropriate time scale, preferably a 15-year time horizon, take account of longer term requirements, and be kept up to date;
  • be based on co-operation with neighbouring authorities, public, voluntary and private sector organisations;
  • indicate broad locations for strategic development on a key diagram and land-use designations on a proposals map;
  • allocate sites to promote development and flexible use of land, bringing forward new land where necessary, and provide detail on form, scale, access and quantum of development where appropriate;
  • identify areas where it may be necessary to limit freedom to change the uses of buildings, and support such restrictions with a clear explanation;
  • identify land where development would be inappropriate, for instance because of its environmental or historic significance; and
  • contain a clear strategy for enhancing the natural, built and historic environment, and supporting Nature Improvement Areas where they have been identified.

Each local planning authority should ensure that the Local Plan is based on adequate, up-to-date and relevant evidence about the economic, social and environmental characteristics and prospects of the area. Local planning authorities should ensure that their assessment of and strategies for housing, employment and other uses are integrated, and that they take full account of relevant market and economic signals.

Local planning authorities should have a clear understanding of housing needs in their area. They should:

  • prepare a Strategic Housing Market Assessment to assess their full housing needs, working with neighbouring authorities where housing market areas cross administrative boundaries. The Strategic Housing Market Assessment should identify the scale and mix of housing and the range of tenures that the local population is likely to need over the plan period which:
    • meets household and population projections, taking account of migration and demographic change;
    • addresses the need for all types of housing, including affordable housing and the needs of different groups in the community (such as, but not limited to, families with children, older people, people with disabilities, service families and people wishing to build their own homes);  and
    • caters for housing demand and the scale of housing supply necessary to meet this demand;
  • prepare a Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment to establish realistic assumptions about the availability, suitability and the likely economic viability of land to meet the identified need for housing over the plan period.

Developments must be financially viable. This means that pursuing sustainable development requires careful attention to viability and costs in plan-making and decision-taking. Plans should be deliverable. Therefore, the sites and the scale of development identified in the plan should not be subject to such a scale of obligations and policy burdens that their ability to be developed viably is threatened. To ensure viability, the costs of any requirements likely to be applied to development, such as requirements for affordable housing, standards, infrastructure contributions or other requirements should, when taking account of the normal cost of development and mitigation, provide competitive returns to a willing land owner and willing developer to enable the development to be deliverable.

Local planning authorities have a “Duty to Co-operate” and will be expected to demonstrate evidence of having effectively cooperated with neighbouring authorities to plan for issues with cross-boundary impacts when their Local Plans are submitted for examination.

Before a Local Plan can be approved by the National Planning Inspectors it must be subject to consultation within the local community. Early and meaningful engagement and collaboration with neighbourhoods, local organisations and businesses is essential. A wide section of the community should be proactively engaged, so that Local Plans, as far as possible, reflect a collective vision and a set of agreed priorities for the sustainable development of the area, including those contained in any neighbourhood plans that have been made.

As you can see it’s a time-consuming operation!

WordPress theme: Kippis-CoVoP 1.15