All local authorities are required by law to prepare a Development Plan, and keep under review matters which affect the development of their area. The legislation requires that planning applications should be determined in accordance with the Plan, which contains the planning policies relating to the local area. As a result, its contents are a primary consideration in any development proposal.
The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) sets out guidance on the approach of the government to planning policy, and how it is expected to be applied. Where a plan does not provide specific guidance on a particular matter, the provisions of the NPPF will apply. As such it is also material consideration in determining planning applications.
For each local authority, planning policy is set out in the Local Development Framework, which comprises a number of separate documents setting out development policies for the area, including (not exclusively) Development Plans (comprising Local Plans, core strategies, site allocation documents and retained policies from older plans, Neighbourhood Plans and Supplementary Planning documents). Plans are also being updated, so increasingly the Local Development Framework comprises a single Local Plan, Neighbourhood Plans and Supplementary Planning documents.