With Thursday the 30th June, the closing date for Castle Point Council’s Local Plan 2016 Consultation responses, fast approaching we consider “What Happens Next.”
What happens next
What is the role of the examination?
Having received any representations on the publication version of the plan, the local planning authority should submit the Local Plan and any proposed changes it considers appropriate along with supporting documents to the Planning Inspectorate for examination on behalf of the Secretary of State.
The examination starts when the Local Plan is submitted to the Planning Inspectorate and concludes when a report to the local planning authority has been issued. During the examination a planning Inspector will assess whether the Local Plan has been prepared in line with the relevant legal requirements (including the duty to cooperate) and whether it meets the tests of ‘soundness’ contained in the National Planning Policy Framework.
The Inspector should work proactively with the local planning authority. Underpinning this is the expectation that:
Issues not critical to the plan’s soundness or other legal requirements do not cause unnecessary delay to the examination of the plan Inspectors should identify any fundamental concerns at the earliest possible stage in the examination and will seek to work with the local planning authority to clarify and address these where these issues cannot be resolved within the examination timetable, the potential of suspending the examination should be fully considered, with the local planning authority having an opportunity to assess the scope and feasibility of any work needed to remedy these issues during a period of suspension, so that this can be fully considered by the Inspector consideration should be given to the option of the local planning authority making a commitment to review the plan or particular policies in the plan within an agreed period, where this would enable the Inspector to conclude that the plan is sound and meets the other legal requirements.
If necessary, the Inspector may be asked by the local planning authority to recommend modifications to the Local Plan that would address any issues with soundness or procedural requirements that are identified during the examination. The Inspector can only recommend modifications if they are asked to do so by the local planning authority itself. If, in doing so, the Inspector identifies any fundamental issues with the plan, they may recommend that the plan should not be adopted by the local planning authority. The local planning authority will then need to consider whether to withdraw the plan and prepare a new document for submission. In this situation, any existing Local Plan policies will remain in force while a new plan is prepared, although some of those existing policies are likely to become increasingly out-of-date.
Let’s hope for a happy eventual outcome.