Last edited 12 Jan 2021

Local plans expert group

Local plans are prepared by district planning authorities, setting out a framework for the future development of an area on a 15-year horizon. They are also the starting-point for considering whether planning applications should be approved.

Local planning authorities are required to have an up to date local plan. However, in March 2015, a report by Nathaniel Lichfield & Partners found that local authority progress with local plans over the last three years had been marginal, with only a quarter having a compliant, up-to-date, adopted plan.

On 15 September 2015, Brandon Lewis MP, Minister for Housing and Planning launched an expert group to consider measures and reforms that could ensure local plans are produced efficiently and effectively. Ref Panel of experts to improve production of local plans.

Following its first meeting, the group announced it was seeking submission of views from the planning and property industry, local government and other stakeholders under the following headings:

Content of local plans

Including requirements of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), overlap with National Planning Practice Guidance (NPPG), length, preambles, template policies, spatial detail, plan period, one plan or several, relationship with local guidance and so on.

Local plan preparation process

Could procedures be changed to provide better and quicker plan preparation? This would include matters such as; the terms and flexibility of existing regulations, the appropriateness of statutory requirements, available ‘best practice’ guides, irreducible requirements and whether these can be changed, scope for active case management, tests of soundness, the terms and implications of the duty to cooperate, the appropriateness of early review, modifying plans post submission, the examination process, powers of intervention, the importance of transition in any change and so on.

Agreeing strategic requirements (including cross boundary requirements)

This could include; the role of Strategic Housing Market Assessments (SHMAs), the appropriateness of evidence requirements and methods for calculating objectively assessed need, the potential for strategic plans, two stage plans, dispute resolution, the role of intervention, striking the relevant balance, and so on.


To look beyond technical issues to consider any other impediments to comprehensive local plan coverage. This could include financial or behavioural constraints or practical difficulties. In addition this includes identifying best practice, lessons from joint working but also potential measures that could help to ensure timely local plan coverage.


Thoughts or relevant experience about how the system is working and the need for change;


What other measures should the Group consider that might assist it to make recommendations which would contribute towards making local plan making more efficient and effective?

Submissions were required no later than close on Friday 23 October.

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