Skip to main content

Why age matters for Local Plans

Age is just a number, unless you are a Local Plan.

The Local Plan is the principal planning document which sets out strategic and non-strategic planning policies for an area. Planning applications are judged against the Local Plan's policies.

Requirement to keep up-to-date

Age of Local Plan affects statusThe government's National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) places great importance on keeping plans up-to-date.

The NPPF requires policies in local plans to be reviewed at least once every five years to assess whether they need updating.

Where a Local Plan is more than five years old the NPPF requires the government's Local Housing Need method be used when calculating Five Year Land Supply, rather than the policies of the Local Plan. You can find the latest figures for your area using the Local Housing Need tool.

Similarly, the government's Housing Delivery Test measurement ignores the Local Plan's housing target where a Local Plan is more than five years old, instead relying on household growth forecasts. You can check the Housing Delivery Test results for each local authority area using my Housing Delivery Test Checker tool.

Changes to the housing requirement figure for an area can have significant implications for the Local Plan. For example, if a Local Plan does not make sufficient land available to meet the housing requirement, it's policies may be rendered out-of-date. In this situation, development proposals will be determined in accordance with the presumption in favour of sustainable development.

Consistency with national policy

A policy's status in decision-making will depend on its consistency with national policy. Where a Local Plan's policies are inconsistent with the NPPF, these may carry less weight in decision-making.

The NPPF was first published in 2012, then revised in 2018 and further updated in 2019.  Older plans, particularly those which were prepared against a different legislative and national policy context, are perhaps more likely to be inconsistent with current national policy.

Other initiatives, such as the introduction of optional technical housing standards in 2015 dramatically reduced the scope which Local Plans have to dictate the design of housing developments (including energy efficiency and accessibility). Policies requiring design standards will generally be regarded as inconsistent with national policy.

Saved policies

The transitional arrangements of the Town & Country Planning Act 2004 enabled local planning authorities to identify policies to be 'saved' and retained for an extended period.

Whilst some policies in older plans may have been 'saved' and will continue to be used in decision-making, other policies may not have been saved and are no longer used - for example, where the policy is inconsistent with current national policy.

Becoming out-of-date

It is important to note that a Local Plan may have diminished status due to factors not related to age. For example, a Local Plan's policies become out-of-date where the local authority cannot demonstrate a five year supply of housing land, or have performed poorly against the housing delivery test. For more info, see my post "Presumption-proofing" Neighbourhood Plans.

Check the status of Local Plans

The basic conditions require Neighbourhood Plans to be in 'general conformity' with the strategic policies of the Development Plan. However, groups preparing Neighbourhood Plans should be mindful that, for the reasons discussed above, a Local Plan's policies do not always carry 'full weight' in decision-making.

For example, in situations where the presumption in favour of sustainable development applies, development proposals are frequently approved outside Local Plan Development Boundaries.

Fortunately, you can find information on the status of the Local Plan for your area using the Local Plan Checker tool.

When you begin writing a Neighbourhood Plan, you should discuss the strategic policies of the Local Plan with your district or borough council to find out whether they are up-to-date and consistent with national policy.

Try the Local Plan Checker here

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Why the Middlewich Neighbourhood Plan failed

News that the Middlewich Neighbourhood Plan was rejected at referendum has spread rapidly across social media and has even been picked up by local and national press - see BBC article.

The story has garnered a lot of attention as it is highly unusual for a Neighbourhood Plan to be rejected. The Middlewich Neighbourhood Plan is only the third Neighbourhood Plan not to be supported by residents.

At the referendum held on 14 March 2019, the Neighbourhood Plan was rejected, albeit by a very slim margin of just 22 votes.
'No' Campaign Prior to the referendum, Labour town councillors led a campaign which encouraged local people to vote against the Neighbourhood Plan. 
Based on the literature shared by the campaign group, opposition to the Middlewich Neighbourhood Plan appears to be pointed at three key issues: Impacts on the town and its infrastructure of the overall scale of growth Middlewich is expected deliverDisagreement with the individual sites identified by the Neighbourhood …

Latest stats show continued increase in house-building

Chart: All Things Neighbourhood Planning
Data source: Live tables on housebuilding: new build dwellings (Table 209), MHCLG

The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government has today published its latest data on house building in the United Kingdom. The graph shows the number of dwellings completed by financial year in England. Data is also available for the other home nations. However, Neighbourhood Planning is a feature of the English planning system only.

In 2017/18, there were more than 160,500 new homes constructed. - the highest rate of development since the financial crisis of 2007-08. As illustrated in the graph, the data shows a steady increase in number of homes built each year since the low-point of 2012-13, where less than 108,000 homes were built. 

The rate of development in 2017/18 is comparable to the period 2004 - 2006. Assuming this trend of increasing development rates continues into the current financial year, the number of homes constructed in 2018/19 could po…

Neighbourhood Plan Review: Plans made in July 2019

Neighbourhood Plans provide a bespoke planning framework for the local area. No two plans are alike, although many have similar characteristics and address common themes. This post provides a short summary of those Neighbourhood Plans which successfully passed referendum in July 2019, highlighting the elements which make each plan locally specific and unique.

The purpose of this post is to celebrate the achievement of those communities in successfully preparing their Neighbourhood Plans, and to share the interesting ideas and policies for the benefit of others who are currently writing their plans. Links to the Neighbourhood Plans are provided throughout the post.
Navigate this post using the map July was a busy month, with a whopping 24 Neighbourhood Plans successfully passing referendum. To  make it easier to navigate this post, the location of the areas covered by each new Neighbourhood Plan are shown on the interactive map. Click on a marker to reveal a link to the plan's su…

Just how big is an infill site? Appeal decision: Chinnor, Oxfordshire

An appeal decision initially caught my eye due to its surprising interpretation of 'infill development' -  but also raises some concerning issues around how Neighbourhood Plan policies are applied during the decision-making process.

The appeal relates to an application for the construction of up to 140 dwellings, new public open space, associated landscaping and site infrastructure on a 3.9ha site at Chinnor, Oxfordshire. The application was made by Persimmon Homes and initially refused by South Oxfordshire District Council. The appeal was allowed, meaning the Planning Inspector went against the district council's decision grant planning permission for the scheme. Details of the appeal can be found using the following reference APP/Q3115/W/17/3187058. Neighbourhood Plan & Development Plan Chinnor is a large village in Oxfordshire. The Chinnor Neighbourhood Plan (CNP) was 'made' in October 2017. When the appeal commenced, the Neighbourhood Plan was less than one…

Putting Health & Wellbeing at the Heart of Neighbourhood Planning

The planning system's origins can be traced back to public health policies from the nineteenth century. Increases in population and the growth of towns created public health problems, and early legislation focused on creating sanitary conditions.

There is a sense that in recent decades planning has lost its way with health, yet our modern environments continue to have profound effects on our health and well-being. In the blog post What stops us from creating healthier places? author Rachel Toms notes that overall, the planning system has done a good job of designing infectious diseases out of the places in which people live, but has "inadvertently contributed to sedentary lifestyles, mental distress and social isolation".

Whilst the planning system has cured the public health problems of the industrial revolution, it faces a new set of public health challenges for the modern era.

In this post, I make the case for prioritising health and wellbeing through Neighbourhood P…

Appeal granted in countryside despite Five Year Land Supply - Shinfield Neighbourhood Plan

Through a recent appeal decision, a Planning Inspector has granted outline planning permission for up to 55 dwellings and 'Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace' (SANG) at land at Parklands, east of Basingstoke Road, Spencers Wood, Wokingham.

The decision was issued on 28th February 2019, under appeal reference APP/X0360/W/18/3204133.

The appeal site is located between two villages, Three Mile Cross and Spencers Wood. The scheme proposes two areas of development adjoining each of the villages, separated by an area of open space - a 'SANG'.
Shinfield Neighbourhood Plan The Shinfield Neighbourhood Plan (SNP) was made in February 2017. Policy 1 of the SNP addresses the location of development:

In Shinfield Parish, development within the Development Limits..., will be supported; development adjacent to the Development Limits will only be supported where the benefits of the development outweigh its adverse impacts. 

'Development limits' are a very common planning …

Neighbourhood Planning and Community Health and Wellbeing - Briefing Note for NALC

I have teamed up with the National Association of Local Councils (NALC) to author a briefing note on Neighbourhood Planning and Community Health and Wellbeing.

The briefing note illustrates how Neighbourhood Plans can actively contribute to improving health and wellbeing in their communities, and draws on recent examples of neighbourhood plan policies. Neighbourhood Plans can tackle issues of health and wellbeing in lots of different ways, as explained in the briefing note, and is something I will be making the case for in future blog posts.

A pdf version of the briefing note is available to view and download below. Further advice on neighbourhood planning is also available from NALC's website.




Neighbourhood Plan Review: Plans Made in September 2019

This post explores Neighbourhood Plans which successfully passed referendum in September 2019, highlighting elements which make each plan locally specific and unique. The following Neighbourhood Plans passed referendum in September 2019:
Bawtry Neighbourhood Plan (Doncaster Council)Brackenfield Neighbourhood Plan (North East Derbyshire District Council)Chelford Neighbourhood Plan (Cheshire East Council)Congresbury Neighbourhood Plan (North Somerset Council)Glentworth Neighbourhood Plan (West Lindsey District Council)Hanslope Neighbourhood Plan (Milton Keynes Council)Hullavington Neighbourhood Plan (Wiltshire Council)Huntingdon Neighbourhood Plan (Huntingdonshire District Council)Misterton Neighbourhood Plan (Bassetlaw District Council)Moreton, Bobbingworth and the Lavers Neighbourhood Plan (Epping Forest District Council)Sedgefield Neighbourhood Plan (Durham County Council)Sedgeford Neighbourhood Plan (Kings Lynn & West Norfolk District Council)Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan (Sidmo…

Essential reading for Neighbourhood Planners

Through my site neighbourhood-planning.co.uk I have attempted to explain the neighbourhood planning process, and provide regular blog posts on the latest issues affecting neighbourhood planning. But where can you go to find out more?

In this article I attempt to summarise where you should go for the most useful information and guidance, and where you can find funding and support for writing a Neighbourhood Plan.
Locality Toolkits and Guidance Locality administer the government's current programme of support for neighbourhood planning groups, and Locality's neighbourhoodplanning.org site should be your first port of call when writing a Neighbourhood Plan.
Locality has produced an excellent series of 'toolkits & guidance' on a range of issues to assist the preparation of neighbourhood plans. It is difficult to understate how valuable Locality's guides are for budding neighbourhood planners. Be sure you don't miss: The Neighbourhood Plans Roadmap 2018 by Dave …

Secretary of State overturns Planning Inspector's decision due to density concerns

Normally, planning appeals are determined by Planning Inspectors, but in some circumstances appeals may be 'recovered' for determination by the Secretary of State (SoS). The current SoS for Housing, Communities and Local Government is James Brokenshire MP.

In December 2018, the SoS issued a decision on a recovered appeal at Woburn Sands, Buckinghamshire. The proposal for residential development of up to 203 dwellings, a doctor’s surgery, open space and landscaping, together with pedestrian, cycle and vehicular access, was initially refused by Milton Keynes Council, and following appeal, granted permission by a Planning Inspector. However, the SoS recovered the appeal and overturned the Inspector's decision, dismissing the appeal.

Details of the case are available on the Planning Inspectorate's website, using case reference: APP/Y0435/W/17/3169314.
Appeal site & Neighbourhood Plan The appeal site is a 15.2 hectare, greenfield site, located outside the development bo…