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Last edited 29 May 2019
'Preferred options' is a term usually encountered in the early stages of a project, describing acceptable outcomes in a certain arena of activities. A number of options are typically set out that are subsequently considered in more detail, with the aim of selecting a single preferred option for detailed development.
For example, local authorities may prepare preferred options documents as key stages in the preparation of local plans, setting out a council’s preferred spatial and policy approaches for the local plan in preparation. A local plan 'preferred options consultation' document may set out the council's preferred options for bringing about sustainable development within a specific time period. Or, it may set out its preferred policy approach that will help shape its policies for determining planning applications as part of the new local plan, as well as setting out preferred options for new development within its boundaries. This may include preferred sites for new housing, employment, leisure and greenspace over a set, long-term period, possibly 20 years or more.
Prepared options for a new local plan will be published for public consultation over a specified time-frame. When the consultation period is over, the responses from the general public and possibly other stakeholders – e.g developers and local employers – are considered before final decisions are put into the local plan.
 Government preferred options
The UK government publishes its preferred options on a wide-range of issues. It will usually publish its potential options, take into account the subsequent views of stakeholders and reach a conclusion on the way forward.
In the early stages of project development, feasibility studies are generally undertaken to assess the options for satisfying the client's needs. This helps decide on a single preferred option that can be developed in more detail.
This may be followed by the preparation of a full business case and project execution plan for the preferred option and then, if a decision is taken to proceed, a detailed project brief can be prepared that can be used as a basis for a design.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Authority monitoring report.
- Community plan.
- Core strategy.
- Development plan.
- Development plan documents.
- Expert panel to streamline local plan-making process.
- Feasibility study.
- Local development framework.
- Neighbourhood plan.
- Planning authorities.
- Planning legislation.
- Safeguarding land.
- The London Plan.
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