Planning law and national planning policy is clear that the starting point for decisions is the development plan for the area, unless material considerations indicate otherwise.
Through our reforms in the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, we plan to strengthen the role of the development plan.
The local planning authority may depart from development plan policy where material considerations indicate that the plan should not be followed, subject to any conditions prescribed by direction by the Secretary of State. This power to depart from development plan policy is confirmed in article 32 of the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (England) Order 2015.
In cases where the local planning authority intends to depart from development plan policy, article 15(3) of the Development Management Procedure Order sets out the publicity requirements which must be followed before the decision is taken.