Section 3 of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) requires that each local planning authority should prepare a Local Plan for its area. This may involve a single local authority preparing a Local Plan for its own area or a group of local authorities working together to prepare a Local Plan for their combined areas.
The Local Plan guides decisions on future development proposals and addresses the needs and opportunities of the area. Topics that Local Plans usually cover include housing, employment and shops and they also identify where development should take place and areas where development should be restricted.
The Local Plan must contribute to the achievement of sustainable development and be consistent with the principles and policies in the government’s National Planning Policy Framework. In essence, the Local Plan should set out what the opportunities are for development in the area, and say what types of development will and will not be permitted and in which locations.
Local Plans are at the heart of the planning system and are the main consideration in deciding planning applications. They set the framework in which decisions on particular proposals are taken locally. The law makes it clear that decisions on planning applications should be made in accordance (in line) with the policies and proposals within the development plan (which includes the Local Plan) unless other strong planning reasons or 'material considerations' indicate. It is therefore very important that you get involved in the preparation of planning policies and proposals within the Local Plan at an early stage if you want to influence how your area will be developed in future. The sooner you get involved the greater the influence you can have on planning in your area. Contacting the planning department of your local council and asking to be included in future consultations on the Local Plan will be the first step in getting more involved.