Last edited 24 Sep 2015

Core strategy for local plans

Local plans are prepared by planning authorities and set out a framework for the future development of an area on a 15-year horizon. They define; the priorities for an area, strategic policies, the framework for neighbourhood plans, land allocations, infrastructure requirements, housing needs, requirements for safeguarding the environment, measures for adapting to climate change and so on. They are also the starting-point for considering whether planning applications should be approved.

The Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 and the Town and Country Planning (Local Planning) (England) Regulations 2012 set out matters that should be considered when preparing a local plan and prescribe their form and content. The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) describes the evidence that should be gathered in the preparation of local plans and the approach that they should adopt (Paras 150 – 185).

The National Planning Policy Framework suggests that a local plan is: ‘ The plan for the future development of the local area, drawn up by the local planning authority in consultation with the community. In law this is described as the development plan documents adopted under the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004. Current core strategies or other planning policies, which under the regulations would be considered to be development plan documents, form part of the Local Plan. The term includes old policies which have been saved under the 2004 Act.’

The number and structure of development plan documents (DPD) is not prescribed by national planning policy and so may vary from one planning authority to another, however, they may include a range of documents such as; a core strategy, site allocations, area action plans, proposals maps, development management policies and so on.

The core strategy is generally the primary development plan document used to guide development in the area over the next 15 years. It sets out the overall planning policy strategy for the area, describing the spatial vision, strategic objectives and key principles that have been adopted. It may set out policies relating to the scale and location of developments and address issues such as development management, sustainability, housing, transport and so on.

Development plan documents such as the core strategy are the statutory elements of the local plan. They may be supported by non-statutory supplementary planning documents (SPD) which provide further information and details to support the policies found in the development plan documents.

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