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Thinking local is the answer when planning to develop

The key message is; it’s never too early to consider putting a site forward

Written by Elizabeth Welch

Successful development is often about having the right land in the right place, but when it comes to the right timing, the progress of the Local Plan process can often make or break a deal or decision.

With districts and boroughs responsible for their own Local Plans – depending upon the complexity of the area and level of political and public support for development – each plan takes differing amounts of time to process from the initial call for sites, through consultation, publication, Examination in Public (EiP) by an Inspector to final adoption.

Changes to the National Planning Policy Framework (published last July) stated: “Policies in local plans and spatial development strategies should be reviewed to assess whether they need updating at least once every five years, and should then be updated as necessary” – which has given landowners an opportunity to put forward sites for development more frequently than they could before.

As a result, there’s the potential to get involved in a Local Plan, and even though, for example, Ashford is just about to adopt its plan, work will soon commence on its replacement – so the opportunity to bring sites forward will again be there.

We would always recommend getting involved in the process at as early a stage as possible – preferably at the start, with the call for sites. The further through the process you wait to comment, or submit your site for consideration, the less likely it will be fully assessed by the time a Regulation 19 (submission version) of the plan is submitted for examination. At this late stage it is unlikely that further changes will be made by the Local Planning Authority.

Sites which may be considered favourably when reviewing a local plan include those on the edge of settlements, closely linked to existing services and facilities, or sites with an existing use (which may have now ceased).

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