What is the Planning Inspector looking for when considering comments?
Before a Plan can be tested for soundness we must ensure that it is legally compliant. To be legally compliant a Local Plan must be prepared in accordance with the following:
- Statement of Community Involvement and relevant regulations (the Council must have consulted appropriate bodies in accordance with the Council’s Statement of Community Involvement);
- Duty to Cooperate (the Local Plan must have been prepared in co-operation with the relevant local planning authorities and prescribed bodies);
- National Policy and Legislation Compliance (the plan must accord with the relevant national policy and legislation. For example, the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF);
- Sustainability Appraisal Report (an adequate Sustainability Appraisal must have been carried out); and
- Habitats Regulations Assessment (an appropriate assessment under the Habitats Regulations must have been carried out)
Once legal compliance is confirmed, the Local Plan must be tested for soundness. In order to be considered ‘sound’ the Inspector must be satisfied that the Local Plan is:
- Positively prepared (prepared based on a strategy which seeks to meet objectively assessed development and infrastructure requirements, including unmet requirements from neighbouring authorities where it is reasonable to do so and consistent with achieving sustainable development);
- Justified (is the most appropriate strategy when considered against reasonable alternatives, based on proportionate evidence);
- Effective (is deliverable over its period and based on effective joint working on cross-boundary strategic priorities); and
- Consistent with national policy (will enable the delivery of sustainable development in accordance with the policies in the NPPF).