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Why are local plans important?

Local Plans have a key role in delivering sustainable development:

  • They have an economic role (planning for prosperity) – they help to ensure that sufficient land of the right type, and in the right places, is available to allow businesses to set up and grow, and to be supported by infrastructure such as roads and railways.
  • They have a social role (planning for people and places) – they can promote strong, vibrant and healthy communities, by providing for housing, leisure and recreation facilities, shops and schools.
  • They have an environmental role (planning for the environment) – they help to protect and enhance landscapes and wildlife, historic buildings and archaeology, and they can help to ensure that water, minerals and energy are used more efficiently.

The development plan

The law requires that planning decisions are made in line with the development plan, unless there are good reasons why this should not be done. These reasons are called ‘material considerations’. The development plan is therefore at the heart of the system.

The key components of the development plan are:

  • Local Plans, which must be prepared by all local district or unitary planning authorities for their area.
  • Neighbourhood Plans, which are voluntary, and are prepared by local communities.

Sustainable Community Strategy

Sustainable Community Strategies are prepared for every local authority area. These provide a strategy for promoting or improving the economic, social and environmental well-being of their area and contributing to the achievement of sustainable development. They set out the issues which are important to local people, and how they might be tackled, to move towards a ‘vision’ of how the place should be in the future.

The Local Plan translates aspects of the Sustainable Community Strategy into a plan for the future use and development of land.