Liverpool City’s emerging local plan is about to reach a key stage with critical implications for developers and landowners in the City, especially those with an interest in securing permission for alternative uses for their property now or in the future.
The City are about to publish for a six week consultation period the submission draft local plan. This is the version of the plan as the Council would hope to adopt it. In fact, it is likely to be subject to further change. After the consultation it must be submitted for independent examination by a Planning Inspector, who will consider both the Plan and any objections to it. The Inspector is likely to recommend a modification to the Plan if he considers an objection is justified.
Those parts of the submission draft plan to which there are no (substantive) objections and which align closely with national planning policy are more likely to remain as they are. It is national planning policy that such parts can be given more weight than other parts of the emerging plan, when making decisions on applications for planning permission. Therefore, if there are no objections to a policy then the council will feel justified in using such a policy to refuse planning permission or to grant permission subject to controls they could not otherwise impose.
For example, if the submission draft local plan continues to include a property in an area allocated for employment and if there are no objections to the relevant policy that does so, then the council are likely to feel they are in a stronger position to refuse any application for a non-conforming use, unless the application can meet any exception criteria the new policy may impose.
The consultation is both an opportunity to prevent or to tone down harmful policies and to promote sites for development in line with the aspirations of owners and developers.
If you are a landowner or developer whose investment may be affected by the emerging local plan then you need to consider now what you need to do to protect that investment. But it is not all bad news. The consultation may also be an opportunity to promote a site for a particular use or development.
The local plan consultation is scheduled to take place over February to March. The precise dates have yet to be formally announced. I do not expect they will vary significantly from the scheduled timetable. There is a strict deadline for the submission of comments. This is constrained by government regulations. Late material cannot be admitted. It may seem like a reasonable amount of time, especially as the consultation has not yet started, but it will go all too quickly.