Agenda item

Weight to be given to the Emerging Local Plan

Weight to be given to the Emerging Local Plan


Executive Summary

The purpose of this report is to consider what weight (if any) in the determination of Planning applications the Council may give to relevant policies of the emerging Local Plan ahead of examination in line with paragraph 48 of the National Planning Policy Framework

Options considered.


• Make recommendations to Cabinet to apply weight as detailed in Appendix 1


• Make recommendations to Cabinet to continue to rely on the 2008 Core Strategy and 2011 Site Allocations Development Plan Document and apply limited weight to the emerging Local Plan on a case-by-case basis.


o Where specific policies of the emerging Plan have been relied upon by an applicant, recommend the continuation of the position that weight can only be given on a case-by-case basis having regard to paragraph 48 of the Framework and the level and nature of any objection.



The Local Plan has been subject to a number of external consultations in line with statutory requirements and been developed through collaborative internal engagement and Member steer through the Planning Policy & Built Heritage Working Party. Full Council authorisation for the submission of the Plan for independent examination was received on 1.3.23



Planning Policy & Built Heritage Working Party recommend to Cabinet that


As soon as reasonably practical weight is given the emerging Plan policies in line with para 48 of the NPPF as detailed in appendix 1.



Reasons for recommendations

The Local Plan is now at an advanced stage of production having been submitted for independent examination and updates many of the policies in the Development Plan to align with the more recent NPPF and corporate /national agenda.

The NPPF advises that local planning authorities may give weight to relevant policies in emerging local plans according to


a) the stage of preparation of the emerging plan (the more advanced its preparation, the greater the weight that may be given);

b) the extent to which there are unresolved objections to relevant policies (the less significant the unresolved objections, the greater the weight that may be given); and

c) the degree of consistency of the relevant policies in the emerging plan to this Framework (the closer the policies in the emerging plan to the policies in the Framework, the greater the weight that may be given).

(para 48)

Background Papers

Submission version of the Local Plan and all background papers and supporting evidence are published and available on the Councils new Local Plan examination Library

Home | Local Plan Examination (


Wards affected


Cabinet member(s)

Cllr Andrew Brown: Portfolio Holder for Planning


Contact Officer

Iain Withington. Planning Policy Team leader



Links to key documents:

Corporate Plan:

Production of the Local Plan is a cross cutting theme in regard delivery of the Corporate Plan’s priorities.

Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS)


Council Policies & Strategies

Core Strategy and Site Allocations Development


Corporate Governance:

Is this a key decision



Has the public interest test been applied




Details of any previous decision(s) on this matter

























Weight to be given to the Emerging Local Plan


  1. The PPTL introduced the Officers report and recommendation. He advised that, at present, limited weight was given to the emerging Local Plan as a whole, with policies used on a case-by-case basis by developers to justify development. As detailed in paragraph 2.3 of the Officer’s report, the NPPF established that Local Planning Authorities may give weight to policies in an emerging local plan due to the stage of production, with greater weight attributed to the more advanced plans, with high degrees of consistency and fewer unanswered objections.


The PPTL confirmed that 30 policies of the emerging Local Plan had been identified which Officers considered could now been given weight in the consideration and determination of Planning Applications alongside the existing development plan. The PPTL stated that it would remain the case that it would be individual Officers to conclude the appropriate planning balance and judgement based on the specific circumstances of each Planning Application. A further 3 policies could only be given partial weight, as they establish a contested strategic position, with substantive objections which challenge the principle of the approach.


The PPTL advised that the Plan was at a significantly enhanced stage, having been in the public domain for over 18 months, undergone significant consultation, and in accordance with the NPPF. Officers therefore sought the views of Member’s as to the level of weight the Council wishes to apply to the emerging plan in decision making. Notably, the Environment Act 2021 makes biodiversity net gain mandatory for all but small sites and some exemptions from an as-yet in November 2023 and for small sites from April 2024. The emerging Local Plan included policies to address this mandatory requirement, and would provide Officers guidance on how this should be implemented.


The PPTL confirmed what would occur should Members choose not to support the Officers recommendation, as set out in paragraph 48 of the Officers report. Should Members be minded to support the Officers recommendation, there will be a transition period to allow for Officers to be briefed, provided appropriate training along with Members, internal systems updated, developers informed on the change of emphasis on policies and a decision made on how to address applications already in the system.


  1. The Chairman asked, if a Local Planning Authority was unable to demonstrate a 5 year Housing Land Supply, what impact this would have the on the weight applied to an emerging Local Plan.


  1. The PPTL advised that the Councils 5 year Housing Land supply positon was not taken into consideration in the Officers report and recommendation. If the Council were unable to demonstrate a 5 year Housing Land Supply, the relevant policies would still apply. The spatial strategy and housing figures were contested and should not be relied upon, and the presumption of sustainable development as set out in the NPPF would still apply.


  1. Cllr P Heinrich welcomed the Officers recommendation and considered many of the existing policies to be outdated, being some 15 years old. He considered a steady transition would take the load off from Officers instead of implementing the new Local Plan all at once.


  1. Cllr N Dixon endorsed the Officers recommendation and stated that a huge effort had been invested in preparing the emerging Local Plan over many years. He supported steady progressive implementation, and noted that those ‘big ticket items’ contained in the emerging Local Plan would be subject to enhanced examination, and may not emerge intact. 


  1. The Chairman asked whether Planning Officers had been consulted on the proposed evolutionary change, noting that this was a significant change. He was supportive of the Officer’s recommendation provided Planning Officers were supplied with appropriate guidance and training. The Chairman spoke positively of the document and the time it had taken to prepare.


  1. The PPTL affirmed that there had been collaboration across the planning policy team to assess the level and significance of objections and conformity with the NPPF before forming a recommendation.


  1. The ADP echoed the comments of Members, that from a Case Officers perspective and to the outside world more broadly, having some simple clarity would be helpful about which policies were effected and to what extent weight would be applied. The ADP considered the three point scale detailed in the Officers report to be pragmatically sensible.  He confirmed his intention, subject to the agreement of the Development Committee Chairman, to present a similar report to Development Committee in the coming months. The ADP affirmed that the alternative of not accepting the Officers recommendation, would not prevent the emerging Local Plan from existing and going through examination, at some point matters would need to be addressed.


  1. The Chairman agreed that Development Committee Members would need to be informed and made familiar with the proposed changes in order to maintain the Councils strong record at appeal. He asked if a mechanism would be put in place to review how the department was coping with the transition.


  1. The PPTL advised that the situation would be monitored by the development management team and the ADP. It was noted that many of the emerging policies were similar to that of the Core Strategy more broadly, and would better align with wording and provided more up-to-date evidence. Those larger strategic polices were not considered to be adopted at this stage, and would be subject to the examination process first. 


  1. Cllr A Varley proposed acceptance of the Officers recommendation, Cllr N Dixon seconded.




Planning Policy & Built Heritage Working Party recommend to Cabinet that as soon as reasonably practical weight is given the emerging Plan policies in line with para 48 of the NPPF as detailed in appendix 1.


Supporting documents: