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What Should LPAs Do That Don't Have a Local Plan in Place From 1 April 2013?
Key Issues for LPAs that do not have a local plan in place from 1 April 2013:
Each LPA needs to consider whether or not it has an up to date plan in conformity with the NPPF or not. If it is shortly to have an up to date plan adopted then, materially, there is little difference to having an adopted plan, provided it has been through the examination process and is in the throes of adoption or in the course of an examination and the inspector has not signalled any fundamental stumbling blocks.
To a large extent the introduction of the NPPF did not produce a situation radically different from the previous situation when a new or revised PPS was published. Thus, the decision maker will need to decide in the particular circumstances of the case how much weight should be given to the development plan relative to the new policy in the NPPF (and of course other material considerations).
Thus, if an LPA does not have an up to date plan in conformity with the NPPF and one is not shortly to be adopted then it runs the risk of appeal decisions being determined in accordance with the provisions of the NPPF rather than locally determined policies.
Decision making, whether it be which policies to include in a plan or if an application should be approved or not, is always a matter of balance. An LPA must act reasonably and take into account all material considerations and not take into account any non-material considerations; and should determine what weight should be attached to the material considerations. The NPPF does not change the statutory status of the development plan as the starting point for decision making. Proposed development that accords with an up-to-date Local Plan should be approved, and proposed development that conflicts should be refused unless other material considerations indicate otherwise. This is why the NPPF states that it is highly desirable that local planning authorities should have an up-to-date plan in place.
It should be remembered that at the heart of the NPPF is "a presumption in favour of sustainable development, which should be seen as a golden thread running through both plan-making and decision-taking".
LPAs should thus expedite their efforts to get up to date plans in place as quickly as possible.
Requests for assistance by POSE should be directed to Andrew Wright