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: providing a strategy which, as a minimum, seeks to meet the area’s objectively assessed needs; and is informed by agreements with other authorities, so that unmet need from neighbouring areas is accommodated where it is practical to do so and is consistent with achieving sustainable development;
- Justified: an appropriate strategy, taking into account the reasonable alternatives, and based on proportionate evidence;
- Effective: deliverable over the plan period, and based on effective joint working on cross-boundary strategic matters that have been dealt with rather than deferred, as evidenced by the statement of common ground; and
- Consistent with national policy: enabling the delivery of sustainable development in accordance with the policies in the Framework.