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Local Plans


Local planning authorities must prepare a local plan which sets planning policies in a local authority area. These are very important when deciding planning applications. Independent planning inspectors must look at all local plan documents that local authorities in England prepare for an examination. The examination is the last stage of the process for producing a local plan. The process should have fully involved everyone who has an interest in the document and they should have had the chance to comment.

Local plans must be positively prepared, justified, effective and consistent with national policy in accordance with section 20 of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 (as amended) and the National Planning Policy Framework.  

Delivering positive local planning

Adopted local plans provide the framework for development across England. Planning inspectors across the country are working with local authorities to give greater clarity of what is expected of them. Planning inspectors are ensuring government policy on sustainable development, housing supply and protecting valuable open spaces is effectively implemented.

The Planning Inspectorate has published a short film on YouTube that shows how planning inspectors are playing a vital role in supporting local councils develop local plans that fully meet their, and their communities, needs.

Preparation and Monitoring of Local Plans

The Planning Inspectorate maintains a national database of Local Plan progress

This information is updated as plans complete the examination process, and when the Planning Inspectorate receives updates from local councils on publications and adoptions.

Please Note: In order to ensure this data is as up to date as possible, the Planning Inspectorate requests the co-operation of Councils, in advising the Inspectorate Plans Team about plan publications as per paragraph 5 of the Letter to Chief Planning Officers - Preparation and Monitoring of Local Plans 30 March 2011. This also applies to the publication of Community Infrastructure Levy Charging Schedules.

Similarly, following the issue of final reports on examinations, it is requested that Councils advise the Inspectorate Plans Team when plans are formally adopted.

Publication or adoption dates should be emailed to

Alternatively, Councils may write to:-

Plans Team
3/12 Kite Wing
Temple Quay House
2 The Square

National Planning Policy Framework

The National Planning Policy Framework was published on 27 March 2012.

The framework gives guidance to local councils in drawing up local plans and on making decisions on planning applications.

The Government aim is for every area to have a clear local plan which sets out local people's views of how they wish their community to develop, consistent with the framework and against which planning applications for planning permission will be judged.

Examination Procedural Practice

The Examining Local Plans Documents: Procedural Practice, The Planning Inspectorate December 2013 (3rd Edition v.2) deals with the procedural aspects of dealing with the examination of Local Plans after submission and is aimed at all those involved in the process of examining a Plan. The guide includes estimated procedural timelines; submission; preparation and initial examination; hearing sessions; the inspector's report; fact check; delivery of the final report and exceptional procedures.

Fast Track Review

The guide also deals with advice on how to carry out a fast track review of specific policies in Local Plans. This fast-track procedure has been made available to help local councils update discrete parts of their local plan in around 6 months. This process outlined will be most appropriate for a review of one or a small number of specific policy issues. Such reviews could consist of, for example, car parking standards or provision of open space and recreation, but are unlikely to be able to cover issues which are fundamental to a plan such as housing or employment strategies.

The Examining Development Plan Documents: Learning from Experience document (PDF version) highlights our experience up to August 2009.

The Examining Development Plan Documents: Soundness Guidance document has been withdrawn following publication of the National Planning Policy Framework.

Programme Officer Notes 

The Planning Inspectorate provides a one day Programme Officer training course 2 times a year normally in April and October. The next course will be on Wednesday the 24th June 2015. To enquire about the course please email


Revised fees for local plan examinations, intended to recover from local planning authorities the cost of providing Inspectors, were introduced on 3 January 2007.

The fees for local plan examinations were set under the Town and Country Planning (Costs of Inquiries etc) (Standard Daily Amount) Regulations 2006 (SI 2006/3227), following consultation with planning bodies (the Local Government Association, the Planning Officers’ Society, the Royal Town Planning Institute and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors).