Local planning authorities must prepare a local plan which sets planning policies in a local authority area. These are very important when deciding planning applications. Independent planning inspectors must look at all local plan documents that local authorities in England prepare for an examination. The examination is the last stage of the process for producing a local plan. The process should have fully involved everyone who has an interest in the document and they should have had the chance to comment.
Local plans must be positively prepared, justified, effective and consistent with national policy in accordance with section 20 of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 (as amended) and the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).
The NPPF gives guidance to local councils in drawing up local plans and on making decisions on planning applications. The Government aim is for every area to have a clear local plan which sets out local people's views of how they wish their community to develop, consistent with the framework and against which planning applications for planning permission will be judged.
Following the publication of the NPPF in March 2012 planning authorities with adopted plans or plans in preparation need to consider which, if any, parts of those plans need updating. The NPPF states that Local Plans should be based upon and reflect the presumption in favour of sustainable development, with clear policies that will guide how the presumption should be applied locally (paragraph 15).
Planning authorities will of course also need to consider what other aspects of their plans may need to be revised in order to reflect the approach of the presumption, to meet the development needs of the area.