The Planning System
Local government administers much of the planning system, preparing Local Plans, determining planning applications and carrying out enforcement against unauthorised development.
District councils are responsible for most planning matters, other than transport and minerals and waste planning – typically functions of the county council. In some areas single tier authorities have responsibility for both district level and county level planning matters. In London the Mayor also has powers to determine certain planning applications of potential strategic importance. In a national park, planning functions are carried out by the park authority.
Local planning authorities appoint planning officers to assist with the operation of the planning system. Most minor and uncontroversial planning applications – around 90% received by most local planning authorities– will be decided through delegated decision-taking powers, which means they are dealt with by local planning authority officers.
Larger and more controversial developments are often decided by planning committee, informed by officers’ recommendations.
National Planning Policy Framework
In 2012 the Government published the National Planning Policy Framework setting out the Government’s planning policies for England and how these should be applied.
At the heart of the NPPF is a presumption in favour of sustainable development, which should be seen as a golden thread running through both plan-making and decision-taking.
For plan-making this means that:
- local planning authorities should positively seek opportunities to meet the development needs of their area;
- Local Plans should meet objectively assessed needs, with sufficient flexibility to adapt to rapid change, unless: – any adverse impacts of doing so would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits, when assessed against the policies in this Framework taken as a whole; or – specific policies in this Framework indicate development should be restricted.
For decision-taking this means:
- approving development proposals that accord with the development plan without delay; and
- where the development plan is absent, silent or relevant policies are out-of-date, granting permission unless: – any adverse impacts of doing so would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits, when assessed against the policies in this Framework taken as a whole; or – specific policies in this Framework indicate development should be restricted.
The LPDF welcome the publication of the revised NPPF on 24th July 2018. We welcome the Government’s continued commitment to significantly boosting the supply of housing and Members of the LPDF look forward to working with the Local Authorities, statutory consultees, communities and all other parties as we strive to achieve the delivery of homes that the country desperately needs.
Whilst the detailed wording of the policy and – more importantly – the implementation of that policy in practice will only be understood over time, the members of the LPDF welcome the opportunities provided by the document and in particular welcome the accompanying amendment to the Planning Practice Guidance seeking to amend the methodology as appropriate in order to ensure that the Government’s target of 300,000 new homes per year by the mid-2020s is achievable.
The revised NPPF can be found here.