Tests of Soundness


The Secretary of State will appoint a Planning Inspector to consider whether or not the District Plan is 'sound' at a public examination (EiP)

He/she will decide whether or not the submitted plan meets the 'Tests of Soundness'  which are outlined in Paragraph 182 of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

These say simply that plans should be prepared:

  • Positively
  • Should be Justified
  • Be Effective
  • Be Consistent with national policy

The Inspector is obliged to assume that the plan is sound unless it is shown not to be.

The plan could be found unsound if the Inspector decides:

  • there is a catastrophic flaw - known as a 'showstopper' or
  •  it has suffered a 'death by 1000 cuts' - this happens if so many small modifications have been made ,that in themselves are not critical but have the result such the final plan, when all of these changes are taken into account , is so different from the plan that the Council consulted on the Inspector concludes that it has become a new plan entirely

 What else could the Inspector do?

  • Reject the plan outright even before progressing to the public examination and send it back for the Council to redo - this has recently happened with Waverley District Council
  • Halt the examination whilst the Council puts forwards a substantive amendment which requires a new 6-week public consultation. The examination resumes once the outcome is available - this happened with the Wealden District Council plan last year.  The Wealden Core Strategy was adopted in November once policies to ensure the protection of Ashdown Forest were strengthened


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