LOCAL AUTHORITY INTEREST IN DEVELOPMENT PLAN LAND ALLOCATIONS
12. Planning legislation requires that planning decisions are made in accordance with the development plan, unless material considerations indicate otherwise. It is important therefore that, where a local authority intends to pursue or support particular development projects in the future, staff responsible for promoting such developments fully engage with their planning colleagues during the preparation of the development plan to allow their requirements to be considered through the emerging plan. This will ensure that the authority's intentions are clearly known from the outset, allowing for any necessary public debate and scrutiny of local authority proposals as part of the wider considerations of the future planning of the area.
13. Local authorities own significant areas of land within their boundaries, and it is not unreasonable that some of that land will be proposed for development. But as planning authorities, it is essential that any choices they make in selecting sites for future development through the development plan process must be based on the best interests of the planning of the area. Decisions should not be influenced by any possible conflict of interests or gain to the authority through the sale of its land to developers. The site selection process must be rigorous and transparent, so that it can be clearly demonstrated that choices have been made solely in the interests of proper planning.
14. As part of the modernisation of the planning system, all local development plans that allocate local authority-owned land for development will need to include a schedule of land ownership. This will ensure that the selection of council-owned sites, perhaps in preference to alternative sites, can be subject to full independent scrutiny in the preparation and adoption of local development plans. In addition, planning legislation already requires all planning applications to include information on land and property ownership and, as a result, detailed proposals for development on local authority land can be flagged up for extra scrutiny.