Research article

Slowly, but surely: local plan coverage has passed the 50% mark for the first time

Plan-making status

The majority of local authorities now have local plans, but some will require reviews soon

Following the introduction of the NPPF, Savills has monitored the progression of local plan preparation across the country. After six years, we can report that local plan coverage has passed the 50% mark for the first time. There are now 164 local authorities that have adopted an NPPF-compliant plan, up from 132 at the same point in 2017.

Plan making is continuing to pick up momentum, with 65 local authorities publishing or submitting a plan for examination over the past year, compared with 50 in the previous year. The threat of Government intervention for those local authorities that are failing to produce a plan appears to have had an impact. York, which has not adopted a development plan since 1954, is among those local authorities to have recently published a draft local plan.

Plan progress

FIGURE 4 | Plan progress | Six years after its introduction, post-NPPF plan coverage has passed 50% for the first time
Source: Savills Research (April 2018)

Not going to plan

A handful of local authorities still have not published an NPPF-compliant plan and remain stuck in the plan-making process. Castle Point, Thanet and Wirral could now have plan-writing responsibilities passed on to their respective city and county councils following persistent lack of plan delivery. A further six local authorities will be at risk of a similar fate if they fail to publish a plan by September this year.

The draft revisions to the NPPF require all local plans to undertake a full or partial review within five years of adoption. If applied now, 28 local authorities would be overdue for a review of their local plan, with a further 10 requiring a review over the next six months. Of the 17 London boroughs with a post-NPPF local plan, six were adopted before March 2013 and an immediate review will therefore be needed.

Local plan-making delivery

FIGURE 5 | Local plan-making delivery | Coverage is increasing, but adopted targets are falling short of housing need

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