Wirral’s Local Plan examination: what you need to know
UPDATED April 18
Wirral’s Local Plan examination began Tuesday 18 April at Wallasey Town Hall.
This is a series of formal hearings which the public can attend or watch online as planning inspectors carefully examine the proposed Wirral Local Plan which outlines how future development will take place in the borough.
The Local Plan, once adopted by the council, is an important planning document and will show where various types of development will be located to meet future needs, such as where resources and enhanced or new infrastructure - such as walking and cycling links, or new schools – should be provided.
The document, once approved, will underpin future development across all of Wirral for the next 15 years.
However, before that can be done it needs to be examined by planning inspectors who will check it meets the legal requirements to be accepted.
This examination is done in public and started on Tuesday 18th April at 10am in Committee Room 1 of Wallasey Town Hall, to convene again on Wednesday 19th April. It will be possible for people to watch the first two days of the Local Plan hearings in person, although proceedings will also be webcast live or could be watched back later online.
The second week of the hearings (9th-11th May) will only take place virtually.
On the day of the hearings, if you wish to watch a live stream of the hearing session, please follow the link below and select the hearing session that is taking place that day:
Watch Wirral Local Plan examination online
After this first phase of the Local Plan examination, the process will then pause until later in the year. This is to allow for an appeal by a developer against the refusal of a number of planning applications. Due to the amount of work in both the Local Plan hearings and the appeal – which is also carried out in public – these cannot take place simultaneously.
At the hearings, each session will consider a specific issue raised by the inspector who will lead a discussion with those who are participating. The council as local planning authority will take part in all the sessions because it is the council’s Local Plan.
Only those who have been invited in advance to speak will be able to address the examination.
The inspectors will use the hearings to help them assess whether the plan is ‘sound’. National planning policy issued by the government states that local plans must meet four tests of soundness –that the plan is positively prepared, justified, effective and consistent with national planning policy.
Further details on Wirral’s Local Plan and previous stages of consultation can be found on Wirral Council’s website
The inspectors will consider:
all the evidence put together by the council to support the plan (including various technical reports)
all the written comments made in response to the public consultation on the draft plan (both for and against)
the discussion that takes place at the hearings
national planning policy set by the government (because government expects local plans to be consistent with national policy)
In reaching their conclusions, inspectors are required to follow the Planning Inspectorate’s Code of Conduct. In particular, the way they conduct the examination must be fair, open and impartial.
If the inspectors find any part of the Draft Local Plan is not sound, they will say what needs to be done to make it so. The inspectors’ role is to hear what everyone has to say and to be impartial. They will make sure that people who are not familiar with this type of hearing are given a fair opportunity to contribute.
At the end of the examination, the inspectors will send a report to the council. This will set out the inspectors’ conclusions on the main issues and it will recommend any changes – known as modifications – that the council needs to make to make the plan ‘sound’. Further consultation may be required at this stage before the council formally adopts the plan as local planning policy.