The Local Plan 2023 - 2038

The current adopted Local Plan for West Lancashire is the Local Plan 2012-2027, but national policy requires us to regularly assess the Plan, and where necessary update it.

In 2016, we started to prepare the Local Plan Review (2050) which was intended to guide development for 38 years, from 2012 to 2050.  However, work stopped on this in September 2019 to give the authority more time to consider the best proposals for the future of West Lancashire. 

We have now started work on preparing a new 15 year Local Plan for West Lancashire which will, by the time it's adopted, become the Local Plan 2023-2038.  These pages will explain the process in preparing a new local plan, and how you can get involved in shaping the future of the Borough.


What is a Local Plan and why is it needed?

A Local Plan sets the planning policy for a local authority area (in this case West Lancashire) to:

  • guide decisions on planning applications and future new development;
  • allocate land for specific types of development over the plan period;
  • protect certain areas of land from development (e.g. nature conservation sites, public open spaces); and
  • provide a wide range of policies to guide how developments should be built to ensure they are as sustainable as possible.

The Local Plan must also be consistent with wider policies, including:

The current adopted Local Plan is over 5 years old.  National planning policy requires Local Authorities to assess their Local Plans every 5 years to make sure they keep up to date with changes, whether locally or nationally.  If a Local Plan becomes out-of-date, it has less weight in decision-making on planning applications.  This reduces the Council's ability to control development that is contrary to the Plan, and to defend decisions at appeal. Having less control makes it harder to ensure that development is sustainable. 

We reviewed the current Local Plan content against national requirements late in 2019, using a government-approved 'toolkit'.  We concluded that a number of aspects of the Plan needed updating.  The results of this assessment can be downloaded below:


Timetable for preparing the Local Plan

The Local Development Scheme (LDS) sets out our anticipated timetable for preparing a new Local Plan and associated local planning policy documents.  There are a number of stages involved and we expect the process to take about four years.  Progress will be reported each year through our Annual Monitoring Report.  Cabinet approved the latest LDS in January 2020.

Work on the new Local Plan, whilst continuing, has been delayed owing to the effects of Covid 19 (staff seconded to other services, and restrictions on the types of consultation we can do), and uncertainty over the Government's Planning White Paper.  We will provide a revised timetable for preparing the new Local Plan once the Council returns to more normal working arrangements.


Working with other authorities and organisations

National planning policy requires us to produce and maintain a Statement of Common Ground (SoCG) to show how we're working with neighbouring Councils and other organisations to consider issues that extend beyond West Lancashire.  The SoCG sets out how we are co-operating with our neighbours in the Liverpool City Region.  It helps demonstrate that we are fulfilling the 'Duty to Co-operate' and that plans are deliverable, based on joint working across local authority boundaries.


Evidence informing the Local Plan

A Local Plan must be informed by, and based upon, evidence. The Council collect and prepare a wide range of information to provide this evidence, with topics including housing, employment, renewable energy, biodiversity, flood risk, climate change, transport, land availability and population change. Some of the evidence collected in the last few years is still relevant and can be found through the link below. Some evidence needs to be updated or collected and we will publish this information as it becomes available.