Policies in Local Plans and Supplementary Planning

All local authorities are required to produce Local Plans for their areas, as a key requirement of the National Planning Policy Framework.

  • They should provide a vision and a framework for the future development of the area, addressing needs and opportunities in relation to housing and other development matters
  • They are expected to guide decisions about individual development proposals and, together with any neighbourhood plans that have been adopted, are the starting-point for considering whether planning applications can be approved
  • Supplementary planning documents should be prepared only where necessary and in line with the National Planning Policy Framework. They should build upon and provide more detailed advice or guidance on the policies in the Local Plan.  They should not add unnecessarily to the financial burdens on development
  • The Town and Country Planning (Local Planning) (England) Regulations 2012 sets out the requirements for producing Supplementary Planning Documents SPDs). SPDs should not contain new policies and should not be contrary to the Local Development Plan or national policy
  • In exceptional circumstances a Strategic Environmental Assessment may be required when producing a Supplementary Planning Document

Planning Obligation Contributions

  • Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) are able to request a ‘Planning Obligation Contribution’ when considering applications for development.  Such contributions often provide for common types of infrastructure
  • Planning obligations mitigate the impact of developments which benefit local communities and support the provision of local infrastructure. Many LPAs will have policies in their Local Plan which set out the standard planning obligations requested as part of any development.  Such policies can also be contained in Supplementary Planning Documents 
  • LPAs must ensure that planning obligations meet three tests that are now statutory tests set out in the Community Infrastructure Regulations 2010.  These are also set out in the National Planning Policy Framework

Commuted Sums

  • LPAs may also request a Commuted Sum when considering housing development proposals. These are amounts of money, paid by a developer to the Council, where the size or scale of a development triggers a requirement for affordable housing, but it is not possible to achieve appropriate affordable housing on site. This enables local authorities to secure affordable housing provision elsewhere

Rural Exception Sites

  • The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) defines Rural Exception Sites as small sites used for affordable housing in perpetuity where sites would not usually be used for housing
  • Rural Exception Sites seek to address the needs of the local community by accommodating households who are either current residents or have an existing family employment connection.  Small numbers of market homes may be allowed at the discretion of the Local Planning Authority, for example where essential to enable the delivery of affordable units without grant funding
  • The NPPF advises LPAs to consider the allocation and release of sites in rural areas through the use of a Rural Exception Site policy.  Such policies are combined with the Council’s Local Plan/Development Plan and are quite often supported by Affordable Housing Supplementary Planning Guidance
  • The development and occupancy of each Rural Exception Site can be controlled through a legal agreement (a Section 106 obligation under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990) which the developer signs with the Council prior to the issue of the planning application decision notice.  This agreement ensures that, so far as possible, the houses developed on the exception site remain affordable into the future, once the first occupiers have moved on

Planning policy and community-led housing

It is unusual for local authorities to include specific mention of community-led housing in their Local Plans or any Supplementary Planning Documents (SPDs). This may, in part, be due to most Local Plans taking many years to prepare, be consulted on and become adopted, with starting points usually pre-dating the recent increased profile of community-led housing. Some local authorities have put in place Local Plan policies that support community-led housing without referring to it directly.

The use of SPDs however offers an opportunity for local authorities with approved Local Plans that now wish to support community-led housing development, to specify policies that will contribute positively to its delivery through the planning process. East Cambridgeshire District Council is leading the way in this respect.

See below for a series of links to Local authorities which make reference to CLH within their Local Plans or SPDs, without being specific in terms of policy.

Relevant Resources

Brighton & Hove Local Plan

Cornwall Council - Adopted Local Plan

Dartmoor National Park

DCLG guidance - Local Plans and Supplementary Planning Documents

DCLG guidance on neighbourhood plans


East Cambridgeshire District Council


Last updated in April 2018