NATIONAL PLANNING POLICY IN ENGLAND

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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.

The ’development plan’ typically includes ‘local plans‘ and ‘neighbourhood plans‘ which set out how an area will develop over time and act as the starting point for planning decisions.

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 was expected from Government along with updated regulations in 2021.   

However, following a government reshuffle in September 2021, and objections from backbench Conservative MPs, proposed changes were dropped or delayed significantly.

Some of the reforms have been taken forward within the Levelling-up and Regeneration Act 2023. 

There a scores of consultations affecting the planning system which are either awaiting government response, ongoing or which we know are coming as a result of the enactment of the LURA in October 2023.  

Not least, changes to the NPPF are expected at any time.    

We also know that a General Election has to take place before January 2025.  It is inevitable that the planning system and policy (housing, the economy, the environment, protection of the Green Belt etc etc) will be key fighting issues for the parties seeking election or re-election.

This is therefore going to be a significant period of change and TownPlanning.info will provide a commentary, comment and insight on the upcoming changes.  

TownPlanning.info has an extensive catalogue of articles and guides which help explain the town planning system in England. 

See below for links to some of our most popular pages or use the search function and menus at the top of the page.  

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