What is a Local Plan?

In planning, you will often hear the term: Local Plan and wonder what it means. You are not on your own! Here we set out what a Local Plan is and what that means to you.

This can be one document or a suite of documents, which are produced by each and every local authority in the country. It sets out local planning policies about what development will and will not be permitted in the local area. The Council might decide to produce more detail guidance with Supplementary Planning Documents such as on regeneration site or as a Master plan to guide development on a large site.  These documents are then used by Local Council’s and Planning Officers to help make decisions on planning applications.

The Local Plan sets out plans on a whole variety of areas in the local community; for example: on how many homes area needed, jobs, shopping, leisure, environment, and a variety of infrastructure such as roads and schools.

When writing the Local Plan, local communities’ views are extremely important. The plan is strongly based around the idea that the community should have a say in how their community develops; as they do know it better than anybody!

The Local Plan must reflect and be consistent with National Planning Policy, which is called the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). What is different about the Local Plan is that local authorities can take on board local planning issues that are important to the local area.

That is it, a Local Plan!

Is Your Council preparing a Local Plan and want to know how best to respond? Do you have a site that is suitably located and could accommodate development? Many Council’s have stumbled in preparing their plan mainly due to not understanding and planning for the housing need in their area.For help on these and any other questions, get in touch with us today!

What happens if I build without permission?

It is not uncommon for people to carry out development work and not realise that they needed planning permission. With the planning rules being so complicated, it is not a surprise that things go wrong and even Council’s give out the wrong advice! It may take weeks, months, or even years before matters come to light.Here, we set out what this means and advice on what you should do.

If you have carried out development which required permission, for example: a change of use of building, an extension, or constructed something different to a set of approval plans, you may be liable to what is called ‘Enforcement Action’.

The aim of enforcement action is generally not to punish those who break the regulations but to remedy any harm caused by unlawful actions. Clearly, this can have financial implications. If you ignore it, you could incur ultimately large fines and/or court action could be taken against you.

Sounds scary? Whilst it can be a serious matter, but if you have been served with a notice or have had a visit from the Council Enforcement Officer, action should be taken.

There are potential options depending on the stage of the Council’s action:

  • You can regulate what you have done, by applying for planning permission retrospectively or to set out a case to the Council – for example, that planning is not required
  • Alternatively, if in the current form, the works are not acceptable, they could be removed or altered to make it acceptable
  • Undertake an appeal against an Enforcement Notice which can be pursued in a number of different areas

If in doubt, please free to call us today and we can provide help and assistance. You are not alone and we have assisted many people, see here. Remember, if you have already been served with an Enforcement Notice, Breach of Condition Notice or Planning Contravention Notice, time is of the essence.

I've been refused planning permission, HELP!

OK, so you have applied for planning permission and you have been refused? All is not lost! We have put together information below, which set out your options and things you can do.

The first stage, and this may have already happened, is to discuss the refusal with the Council. In many instances, it is possible to come to an agreement with the local planning authority by making adjusting to your plans, which address the reason for refusal.

If that isn’t an option, then you can appeal to an independent body (Planning Inspectorate), which is separate to your Local Council. You can also appeal if the Council have not made the decision within the prescribed time.

Only the person who made the planning application can appeal against the decision and if you choose to appeal, you must do so within 12 weeks or 6 months of the date of the decision notice depending on the type of application.

There are various appeal routes you can take – a written exchange or a verbal hearing and for larger and sometimes more controversial applications, the Inquiry route. The best method will depend on what your project is.

The decision to pursue an appeal should be taken after careful consideration, including the time implications involved, although the Government has introduced moves to make the system quicker. The chances of success will vary case to case and on the strengths of the individual project. Many cases are finally balanced and the presentation of a persuasive case that is well structured, references relevant matters, including local and national policies can make the difference between success and failure.

The majority of appeals would benefit from professional input from those who have the required skills and experience.We would recommend speaking to a Chartered Town Planner to maximise your chances of winning your appeal. Make sure you put your appeal amongst around the one third that win permission on appeal. We have an excellent track record, so please feel free to contact us if you require any help or advice.