THE FRAMEWORK OF NATIONAL PLANNING POLICY AND GUIDANCE
Planning decisions directly affect our built and natural environment and the way we live our lives.
In England, the planning system is ‘plan-led’, meaning that decisions are made in accordance with the ‘development plan’ unless material considerations indicate otherwise – a mechanism set in statute.
National planning policy and guidance documents in England are administered by central government in Westminster (through the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities) and outline how the government expects the planning system to work within the framework set by legislation in the form of various planning Acts and associated regulations.
Such policy and guidance can be a material consideration in the determination of planning applications.
When drafted, local plans and neighbourhood plans must follow national policy, guidance and any statutory requirements in order to be found ‘sound’ and become adopted parts of the ‘development plan’.
In England, national policy and guidance is principally set out in:
Planning Circulars, Letters to Chief Planning Officers, Ministerial Statements and National Policy Statements for nationally significant infrastructure projects may also be material considerations in the formulation of local policy and the determination of planning applications.
It is important for planning professionals, the development industry and those affected by the planning system to be aware of existing and emerging national planning policy and guidance.
In August 2020, the government announced proposals to radically reform the planning system in England. Consultation on draft proposals ended in the autumn of 2020 and a response is expected from Government along with updated regulations in the coming months.
However, following a government reshuffle in September 2021, and objections from backbench Conservative MPs, the expectation is that any changes are likely to be less radical than those consulted upon in 2020.
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