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August 25, 2023

Every local authority in England is supposed to have an up-to-date local plan to set out how much new development they need and where it should be located. The government is currently consulting on significant changes to what those local plans should include and how they are to be prepared. You can learn more about the proposals and what they include in this post.

The consultation includes two dates that are crucially important in deciding the right strategy for promoting your site to development.

The first is 30 June 2025 - the end of the transition period from the old system to the new. For a local authority to have their plan examined under the current system - the process whereby a planning inspector checks that a plan has been properly and legally prepared before it can come into force - it needs to be sent to the Planning Inspectorate before that date.

June 2025 might seem a long way off, but in plan-making terms, it really isn’t. It almost certainly isn’t enough time to start a review process, gather the necessary evidence, and go through the legally required stages of consultation.

That means if a council hasn't already started preparing a new plan, it almost certainly won’t have time to do so before the end of the transition period. In contrast, where plan reviews are well progressed, councils will have an incentive to meet that date to ensure their efforts (and expenditure) don’t go to waste.

The second key date is autumn 2024. This is the date by which the government is committing to have the final guidance and regulations in place setting out precisely how the new system will work. The changes to plan-making are substantial - the content of plans will change significantly and the process for preparing them will be dramatically different. But until those new rules are in place, councils won’t know exactly what is expected of them - making it all but impossible to start a review of their local plan.

Even once the rules are known, councils will want to take some time to consider them and to reflect on how to work within them. Few will want to be the first to try to navigate this new system. The last time the plan-making process changed this significantly, it ended badly for the first two councils to progress new plans - both were rejected by a planning inspector.

So whilst the earliest a council can start work on a new-style local plan will be the autumn of next year, in most cases it is likely to be mid-2025 or even later before work gets underway.

More positively, after years of promises of changes to plan-making caused the system to stall, finally having some certainty should see more councils starting work on new plans as delayed reviews finally get underway. Many more councils will want to prepare a new-style plan regardless of the age of their current one. That spike in plan-making activity will represent a good opportunity to promote new sites for development. And while it might seem a little way off, it’s never too early to start work on a new site. Survey work can be prepared, and informal discussions can take place with the council - all with the aim of making sure your site is seen positively by the council when the work on their local plan finally starts.

The Strategic Land Group has been doing exactly that for 15 years. We work with landowners to deliver planning permission on their sites at our cost and risk. Our fee is a share of the value of the site once it is sold, so if we don't succeed, it doesn't cost you anything.

If you know of a site you think might be suitable for new homes, get in touch today for a free, no obligation consultation.

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