The purpose of the examination of the Local Plan is to consider whether the plan complies with procedural requirements (legal tests) and whether it is ‘sound’. The Inspector who runs the examination will assess relevant evidence from the local authority, and any formal written representations (comments) by local people, developers or specialist agencies. The Inspector will also check that the document has been subject to a Sustainability Appraisal; that the authority has carried out consultation as described in the Statement of Community Involvement and whether the Local Plan complies with the Habitats Directive and Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive.
The Inspector will only consider comments made on the published plan and the Inspector will assume that the document is ‘sound’ unless evidence presented at the examination proves otherwise. The National Planning Policy Framework sets out four policy ‘tests of soundness’ against which Local Plans are assessed: -
- Positively prepared: the plan should be based on a strategy which seeks to meet objectively assessed development and infrastructure requirements, including unmet requirements from neighbouring authorities where it is reasonable to do so and consistent with achieving sustainable development;
- Justified: the should be the most appropriate strategy, when considered against reasonable alternatives, based on proportionate evidence;
- Effective: the plan should be deliverable over its period and based on effective joint working on cross-boundary strategic priorities;
- Consistent with national policy: the plan should enable the delivery of sustainable development in accordance with the policies in the Framework.