Last edited 04 Nov 2020

Development plan documents DPD

Local Plans are prepared by local planning authorities. They set out a framework for the future development of an area on a 15-year horizon. They define; the priorities for an area, strategic policies, the framework for neighbourhood plans, land allocations, infrastructure requirements, housing needs, requirements for safeguarding the environment, measures for adapting to climate change and so on. Local plans are also the starting-point for considering whether planning applications should be approved.

The Local Plan consists of a number of Development Plan Documents (DPD) which set out the spatial planning policies for the local authority area. Development Plan Documents were introduced by reforms to the planning system under the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004, to create more flexible local planning policy that was easier to change.

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) defines Local Plans as, ‘The plan for the future development of the local area, drawn up by the local planning authority in consultation with the community. In law this is described as the development plan documents adopted under the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004. Current core strategies or other planning policies, which under the regulations would be considered to be development plan documents, form part of the Local Plan. The term includes old policies which have been saved under the 2004 Act.’

Development Plan Documents should not repeat policies set out in the National Planning Policy Framework, but should provide detailed guidance in relation to local circumstances.

The local authority must set out the programme for preparing Development Plan Document in a Local Development Scheme (LDS). Their preparation should involve all those with an interest in the documents, and they should also have the chance to comment on draft documents. Development Plan Documents are then inspected by an independent planning inspector to ensure they have been prepared legally and that they are ‘sound’, that is, they show good judgement and are able to be trusted.

The number and structure of Development Plan Documents is not prescribed by national policy and so may vary from one planning authority to another. The NPPF states, ‘Each local planning authority should produce a Local Plan for its area.... Any additional development plan documents should only be used where clearly justified.’

As a result, there may be very few Development Plan Documents, or they may include a range of documents such as:

Development Plan Documents are the statutory elements of the Local Plan. They may be supported by non-statutory Supplementary Planning Documents (SPD) which provide further information and details to support the policies found in the Development Plan Documents.

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