Local planning authorities are required to produce a Local Plan. If they don’t decisions on planning applications can become more difficult, and more may be decided by inspectors. Government policy will also be used instead as the default option.
The Local Plan should set out priorities and policies for development in relation to housing, business, infrastructure (such as transport, waste and telecoms), health, security, community facilities and services, and the environment. It should set out what the opportunities are for development in the area, and say what will and will not be permitted and where.
The Local Plan is the key local planning policy document. It is underpinned by an evidence base to ensure that all future planning policy and decisions are based on robust and up-to-date information.
Local plans have a set lifespan before they are reviewed. A national requirement to review plans every five years came into force in 2017.
They are very complex, and their policies can be backdated as well as forward dated. In addition, some policies from the plans will be carried forward to the next plan (beyond the lifespan limit of the plan as a whole) before they are eventually superseded.