Local Plans are the main consideration when decisions are made on planning applications and other development proposals. The law makes it clear that decisions should be made in accordance with the policies and proposals in the development plan (which includes the Local Plan) unless other strong planning reasons or ‘material considerations’ indicate otherwise (Section 38(6) of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004).
The Local Plan will set out the framework for future development and may identify sites and locations for future development as well as areas which will be protected for example areas of recreation and open space. The Local Plan will also identify issues which need to be taken into account when planning applications are submitted and set out criteria against which development proposals will be assessed. It is important that local people are involved in the development of the Local Plan as they have knowledge of the area and may have information which should be taken into account, for example, whether a specific site is suitable for development or important areas of open space which are well used by the community should be protected.
The strategic policies in the Local Plan must also be considered during the development of a neighbourhood plan. One of the basic conditions against which neighbourhood plans are assessed is whether they are in general conformity with the strategic policies in the adopted Local Plan.