Planning policy in England

The following Planning practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Planning policy in England
  • Why is planning policy important?
  • Structure of planning policy
  • The London Plan
  • Determination of applications in accordance with development plan
  • What is the 'development plan'?
  • Judicial interpretation of duty under s 38(6)
  • National Planning Policy Framework
  • ‘Sustainable development’
  • Planning Practice Guidance
  • More...

Planning policy in England

Why is planning policy important?

Planning policy:

  1. determines the type and location of development in an area

  2. helps to achieve key objectives of local planning authorities (LPAs), and

  3. helps to inform the process of determining planning applications

A planning application which accords with planning policy is more likely to be granted permission than one which does not. Consequently, developers should take planning policy and guidance into account when preparing planning applications.

Objectors against planning applications can also use policies to strengthen their arguments, eg if the planning application does not accord with local policies. In addition, if an LPA ignores national policy, this can form the basis of an objection in a local plan inquiry or in a public inquiry into a specific development. In some cases a failure to reasonably have regard to national policy could form the basis of a legal challenge by way of judicial review.

Structure of planning policy

England has a hierarchical structure of guidance and plans covering national and local planning which includes:

  1. the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) (see Practice Note: The National Planning Policy Framework)

  2. National Policy Statements (see Practice Notes: National Policy Statements and Permission for nationally significant infrastructure projects)

  3. local plan documents (see: Local plans)

  4. neighbourhood plans (see: Neighbourhood planning—overview)

The London Plan

The London Plan is a spatial development strategy for the Greater London area published

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