Local Plans set out the big decisions on planning for the future...
The key stages of Local Plan preparation and when to get involved are shown in the following flow chart:
The simple answer is the earlier the better! You will then be able to feed into the 'vision' of the plan - what you want your area to be like in the future, and the plan's 'objectives' (i.e. what the plan aims to achieve). The overall strategy of the plan is also decided early on - this identifies what and how much development is needed to meet local needs, and broadly where it should take place - it is known as the 'spatial strategy'.
When you want to comment on the Local Plan it is important to make your comments in a way that can easily be taken on board by the local planning authority. This means keeping to the key planning issues - these relate to the development and use of land, and any environmental, social and economic issues which have land use implications.
The next thing to bear in mind is to back up your comments by referring to real evidence. This will give your comments more weight and substance. We provide more guidance on how to do this, and what evidence you might refer to in Step 2 (Influencing the Issues, Vision and Objectives).
It is easy to object to something you don't like. But what the local planning authority would like to know is what you would like to see happen instead to meet a particular need. So if you object to something in the Local Plan, be positive and make a suggestion to improve the Local Plan which would overcome your objection. In this way, you can really influence the final plan - your suggestion may be taken on board and your idea or words used in the final text.
Finally, consider if a joint consultation response would be helpful to you. If you can agree a response with other local groups, or agree to respond along the same lines, this is likely to be more effective - the local planning authority will see that a large number of people or groups share the same view.