A Summary of the Planning System

Planning has three hierarchical structures

  • National Planning
  • Regional Spatial Strategies
  • Local Development Frameworks

National Level

The Government determines national policies on different aspects of planning and the rules that govern the operation of the system. National planning policies are set out in Planning Policy Statements (PPS) and Planning Policy Guidance notes (PPG),

Regional Level

In England Regional Planning Bodies (in London, the Mayor) prepare and produce a Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS) (in London, the Spatial Development Strategy) reflecting the needs and aspirations for development and land use for a ten to fifteen year period. Each RSS should reflect, and build on, the policies set out at national level.

Local Level

Local planning authorities (other than county councils) must prepare a Local Development Framework (LDF). An LDF will include a Local Development Scheme, Local Development Documents and a Statement of Community Involvement.

Local planning authorities (except county councils) must prepare a Local Development Scheme (LDS) which sets out a programme for the production of Local Development Documents (LDDs); what documents are to be prepared as LDDs; the timetables for producing them; and whether they are to be prepared jointly with other local authorities. LDDs, which can either be Development Plan Documents (DPDs) or Supplementary Planning Documents (SPDs), should reflect and build upon national and regional policies, taking into account local needs and variations. The Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 requires LDDs to have regard to national policies and guidance issued by the Secretary of State, the local authority's Community Strategy, and also to be in general conformity with the RSS or, for London Boroughs, the Spatial Development Strategy.

The Development Plan

This forms the basis of all planning decisions. The plan will consist of:

i) Regional Spatial Strategies,
ii) Development Plan Documents prepared by district councils or unitary authorities

Determining Planning Applications

Local planning authorities must determine planning applications in accordance with the statutory Development Plan, unless material considerations indicate otherwise. If the Development Plan contains material policies or proposals and there are no other material considerations, the application should be determined in accordance with the Development Plan. Where there are other material considerations, the Development Plan should be the starting point, and other material considerations should be taken into account in reaching a decision. One such consideration will be whether the plan policies are relevant and up to date. The 2004 Act provides that if there is a conflict between policies in an RSS or policies in a DPD, the most recent policy will take precedence.

The full details of the planning system can be found at www.communities.gov.uk/index.asp?id=1143815

Jun 06

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