Last edited 24 May 2016

Development plan

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), published in 2012, defines development plans as; adopted local plans, neighbourhood plans and the London Plan, as described in section 38 of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004.

The planning system is plan-led, requiring that applications for planning permission are determined in accordance with the development plan unless material considerations indicate otherwise. Where the development plan is absent, silent or outofdate, planning permission should be granted unless:

  • Any adverse impacts of doing so would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits, when assessed against the policies in the NPPF; or
  • Specific policies in the NPPF indicate development should be restricted.

The NPPF defines Local Plans as, ‘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.’ See Local Plan for more information.

Additional development plan documents, such as Supplementary Planning Documents (SPD) which provide more detailed guidance, should only be prepared where they are clearly justified and should not be used to add unnecessarily to the financial burdens on development. See Supplementary Planning Documents for more information.

The NPPF defines neighbourhood plans as, ‘A plan prepared by a Parish Council or Neighbourhood Forum for a particular neighbourhood area (made under the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004).’ See Neighbourhood Plan for more information.

Development plans may also include higher level plans, such as the London Plan. The NPPF makes clear that, ‘Regional strategies remain part of the development plan until they are abolished by Order using powers taken in the Localism Act. It is the government’s clear policy intention to revoke the regional strategies outside of London, subject to the outcome of the environmental assessments that are currently being undertaken.’

The London Plan is a spatial development strategy setting out an economic, environmental, transport and social framework for the development of London. It is only intended to deal with things of strategic importance to Greater London. Local plans prepared by the London boroughs should be in general conformity with the London Plan, and its policies guide decisions on planning applications by local planning authorities and the Mayor. See London Plan for more information.

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