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THE ESSENTIAL GUIDE: How the Local Plan process can help you get planning permission

The planning system can seem complicated at the best of times and the process for preparing a new Local Plan is no exception. But it can provide a crucial opportunity to secure development on your land through an approach called land promotion. This blog explains how you can do it.

Why the Local Plan is so important

Every council in England and Wales is supposed to have a Local Plan to guide development over a 10 to 15 year period. The Plan consists of a number of policies which set out how much development is needed and where it should be located. That usually includes identifying specific sites for particular uses, such as new housing or employment development. Other policies control things like how new developments should be designed.

When you submit a planning application, the council compare it against the policies in the Local Plan. If the application meets all those policy requirements it will normally be approved; if it doesn’t comply with policy then the application would usually be refused.

How is a new Local Plan prepared?

As Local Plans only cover a set period of time, councils frequently replace them with new, more up-to-date Plans. We’ve explored the progress councils are making with their new Plans in this blog.

Government guidance sets out a strict process for preparing a new Local Plan. To show they are following it correctly, councils often refer to stages like ‘Regulation 18 Consultation’ which can make it difficult to understand what is going on. Essentially though, the process is quite straightforward and involves 5 key stages:

  1. Gather evidence on the challenges the council faces and the level of development needed.
  2. Consider the various ways in which those challenges could be addressed.
  3. Settle on a preferred solution and turn it into a draft Local Plan.
  4. Revise the Plan based on comments and suggestions from the public.
  5. Ask the Planning Inspectorate to confirm that the Plan has been prepared properly and can be used for deciding planning applications.

We’ve produced an infographic that illustrates these stages.

Turning the Local Plan to your advantage

Each of those stages involves consulting local residents, land owners and developers for their views. This can include submitting your own evidence to the council.

If you would like a particular type of development on your site, this provides an opportunity to influence the policies in the new Plan. The aim is to make sure that those new policies allow your development to take place, even if it would be prevented by policies in the ‘old’ Plan.

Trying to secure planning permission in this way is called either Local Plan promotion or land promotion. It is a really powerful approach as it can work on sites of all types including old industrial sites, agricultural land, Green Belt and even sites where planning permission has been refused in the past.

There are two key elements to land promotion:

  1. Submit evidence to the council showing why the development you are proposing is actually needed. This might be from analysing the council’s own evidence or it could be brand new information you have prepared yourself. For example, you might submit evidence to show that the council needs to deliver a significant number of new homes in a particular town.
  2. Demonstrate why your site is suitable for the type of development that is needed. This requires specialist evidence relating to traffic, ground conditions, ecology, landscape and heritage. A masterplan for the proposed development is useful as well, to show how the development could actually look. Often there will be more than one potential site for the development that is needed; where possible, your evidence should show that your site is better than the alternatives.

As the Plan moves through the various stages of preparation, the type of evidence you submit will also evolve in response to any new questions that are raised.

If your land promotion is successful the new Plan will confirm that the development you have been promoting can take place.

The opportunity to promote your site through the Local Plan doesn’t come round very often. As Plans typically cover a 15 year period, they don’t need to be replaced more often than that. If you want to secure development on your site, it is therefore crucial that you take the opportunity when it arises.

The Strategic Land Group can help you secure planning permission on your land in this way. We specialise in promoting sites through the Local Plan process to secure permission for development. Once planning permission is granted, we will help you sell the site to a developer. All of that is done entirely at our cost and our risk – our return is a share of the value of the site once it is sold. If we don’t succeed, it doesn’t cost you a penny.

Get in touch today to ask for a tailor-made proposal for your site – with absolutely no obligation.

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