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Examining local plans

Once the Local Planning Authority has finished preparing and consulting on a local plan it must be submitted to the Secretary of State who will appoint an Inspector to carry out an independent examination. This process is dealt with by the Planning Inspectorate.

The examination will assess whether the plan has been prepared in accordance with legal and procedural requirements and if it is sound. The four tests of soundness are set out in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

  1. Positively prepared – providing a strategy which, as a minimum, seeks to meet he area’s objectively assessed needs ; and is informed by agreements with other authorities, so that unmet need from neighbouring areas is accommodated where it is practical to do so and is consistent with achieving sustainable development;
  2. Justified – an appropriate strategy, taking into account the reasonable alternatives, and based on proportionate evidence;
  3. Effective – deliverable over the plan period, and based on effective joint working on cross‐boundary strategic matters that have been dealt with rather than deferred, as evidenced by the statement of common ground and:
  4. Consistent with national policy – enabling the delivery of sustainable development in accordance with the policies in this Framework.

Typical Examination Stages

Detailed practical guidance on the procedural aspects of local plan examinations can be found in the Procedure Guide for Local Plan Examinations.

More detail on the role of the Planning Inspectorate in the examination process can be found on their website.


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