Last edited 27 Sep 2016

Expert panel to streamline local plan-making process

Local plans are prepared by local authorities and set out the 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.

The introduction of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) in 2012 put local plans at the heart of the planning system. Local authorities have until early 2017 to produce local plans or the government will intervene to arrange for a local plan to be written, in consultation with local people.

However, by September 2016, only 276 local authorities had published local plans and just 216 had been adopted, meaning that more than a third of local planning authorities did not have adopted plans. The slow pace of local plan-making was highlighted in a government plan for increasing Britain’s productivityFixing the foundations’ published in July 2015.

On 15 September 2015, Planning Minister Brandon Lewis launched a new panel of 8 experts (Local Plans Expert Group or LPEG) to help streamline the local plan-making process. This is intended to ensure the time taken for local plans to be put in place is reduced, providing greater certainty to communities and enabling developers to start work on site sooner. Ref Launch of new group of experts to help streamline the local plan-making process.

The group includes representatives from a range of backgrounds, including local authorities, developers, the legal industry and the Planning Inspectorate.

The group will be able to consider any aspect of the local plan-making process they feel is relevant and call on experts as they see fit. League tables will be published setting out the progress councils have made.

Brandon Lewis said: “…it’s fair to say the process of getting Local Plans in place can sometimes be lengthy and complicated. That’s why we’ve brought together this panel of experts to help look at ways to streamline the process. Their first-class advice will help councils push on and deliver the homes and infrastructure that their communities need.”

The group produced a report in March with 47 recommendations.

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