Planning Advisory Service (PAS) Logo
Planning Advisory Service (PAS)
Open group | Started - July 2012 | Last activity - This week

12 weeks to produce an LDS/ Local Plan timetable

Judith Orr, modified 1 Month ago.

12 weeks to produce an LDS/ Local Plan timetable

New Member Posts: 18 Join Date: 16/03/21 Recent Posts

Hello

I was wondering what other local authorities intending to produce a new Local Plan under the new plan-making system, are doing about the requirement, contained in Gove's letter of 19th December 2023, to produce an updated Local Plan timetable?

It is set out, in the July 2023 government Consultation Paper, that there are going to be 10 front runner authorities and that other local authorities will be given commencement windows at 6 monthly intervals. Without knowing what the likely commencement window for these authorities is going to be, how is it possible to produce a Local Plan timetable? We have written to DLUHC for clarification on this issue but have not yet received a response from them.

Given that we are now fast approaching the end of the 12 week period for producing these timetables, I would be interested to hear from other authorities in this situation and what assumptions they have made in order to produce a timetable.

Judith

Neville Ball, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: 12 weeks to produce an LDS/ Local Plan timetable

New Member Post: 1 Join Date: 06/05/16 Recent Posts

We've asked a similar question to PINS, again with no reply. The entire 'new' local plan system under the LURA requires secondary legislation to be passed before it can come into effect. As far as I'm aware, the relevant sections of the act are subject to commencement orders and these haven't yet been made. The only indication of what the new system may contain, including the 30 month time period to produce a plan etc., is in the July 2023 consultation. 

It seems to me therefore that there is nothing to stop an authority continuing to prepare a plan under the 'old' system, and indeed that is the only lawful system that currently exists. 

David Pickhaver, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: 12 weeks to produce an LDS/ Local Plan timetable

New Member Posts: 4 Join Date: 06/12/21 Recent Posts

Thanks Neville- I think that's a really good point that the 2012 Regulations are the only ones currently in force. 

We have a similar dilemma- stick with the devil you know or take a leap into the dark! 

Obviously the Government has given LPAs a deadline of June 2025 for Submission under the "old" system.  We will struggle to hit that deadline, and have said that we will proceed under the new system with a consultation early in 2025.  We've responded to the government it was PINS that chased us about it rather than DLUHC.  But said that it was an interim officer view, pending a formal Cabinet decision.  The main reason for this is that it isn't practical to hit the June 2025 submission date.   (And also because a plan produced under the old system will always be a legacy plan - "last year's model".  One of the best local plans I've worked on was adopted in 2004, but was always on the back foot because it wasn't a shiny new LDF).  

But I have been agonising over whether that's the right advice to give Members.  I am aware that there is a risk with waiting, because I think that the July 2023 consultation talked about allowing 25 LPAs to join each 6 month tranche of Plan making.  With no transitional protection for councils whose plans were out of date. 

The June 2025 submission deadline was set when the LURB was expected to gain Royal Assent in Spring 2023 rather than October 2023; so there is already a 6-month slippage.  With everything else on the Government's plate, and given the ineviable challenges with new Local Plan Regs, SA/EOR requirements, Alignment etc. I wouldn't be at all surprised if the June 2025 deadline is extended and we will still be using the 2012 regulations well into 2025.  I'm kind of gambling that will be the case. 

Several neighbouring councils, with Local Plan Managers who I respect,  are racing to hit the June 2025 deadline.   Micheal Gove's letter of September 2023 and WMS of 19th December urged councils to speed up plan making and not wait for the new system.  There is a disconnect there: why are the government urging we all use the old system, which the government declared isn't fit for purpose in "Planning for the Future"?.  If it's still fit for purpose, why replace it?  The substantive tests are in the NPPF anyway, and I think that the December 2023 Framework does contain some positive incentinves to produce plans quickly (caveats below!). 

Michael Gove's letters and the 2023 NPPF empoys a "carrot and stick" approach: adopt a local plan speedily or various routes apply to impose Presumption on LPAs.  But the Presumption also applies at Plan making (NPPF11(b)) and is if anything stronger than that which applies for applications (11(d)).  Another problem is that demonstrating 5YHLS at Examination is difficult under the NPPF definition of "deliverable".  Major sites allocated for development in local plans aren't usually "deliverable" without a "realistic prospect" of  completions within 5 years - so don't tend to be the types of major site that local plans plan for.  In my experience, Inspectors have gone a little easier on LPAs at Local Plans than they have at 5YHLS appeals.  I can only think (but I have no evidence for this!) that Inspectors have been advised to look with a benevolent eye at such issues at Local Plans Examinations, but apply the tilted balance with rigour where the development plan is out of date.  

The other issue is local politics, which is going to be different for every council. But, is a general election year the best time to consult on controversial development proposals?  Especially when housing is set to be an election issue.  

That's a bit of a ramble- we're advising going with the "new" system. But I wonder if that's the best appeoach for the reasons above. Would really appreciate collegues' views. 

Thanks 

Judith Orr, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: 12 weeks to produce an LDS/ Local Plan timetable

New Member Posts: 18 Join Date: 16/03/21 Recent Posts

Thank you for your responses Neville and David. Like you David we don't think that we can meet the June 2025 Submission deadline, and hence are proposing to wait for the details/ secondary legislation of the new plan-making system. There is the addititional complication that the July 2023 consultation paper talked about the government 'standardising key evidence and data' and therefore there is a risk in undertaking too much evidence gathering at this stage that we may have to update it or that it could be abortive, hence another reason for the delay. 

We are in a relatively fortunate position that our current plan was adopted within the last 5 years, and thus can benefit from some of the 'carrots', referred to by David, and haven't had any chasing emails from either PINS or DLUHC as a result. However, as the Plan will become 5 years old in July next year we do need to think about when we are going to start our review, and not knowing the likely commencement date, proposed in the new system does make it extremely hard to produce a timetable for the review.