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What effect does the examination process have on pending planning applications?

Often people wonder why, when planning applications (particularly for major development) which haven’t yet been decided and would be affected by plan changes, their determination should not be held up until the outcome of the examination process is known.

It is a fundamental principle of planning that authorities must take decisions on applications as they come before them rather than delay a decision on them until a future, and potentially indefinite, time. This is to avoid delays in the system for decision making and for unnecessary delays in bringing development forward.

Paragraph 48 of the National Planning Policy Framework sets out that plans may gain weight in planning decisions before they are adopted, therefore it is not necessarily the case that an application submitted before a Plan is formally adopted will pre-empt the Local Plan. Many authorities give careful consideration to scheduling significant applications where Local Plans are in preparation to ensure that the timing of the two aligns, particularly where evidence is common to both.

If you are concerned that the decision on an application may prejudice the Local Plan, you should raise these concerns in representations on the relevant planning application, or seek information as to how the authority plans to handle this matter practically.

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