Planning Applications - (UK)
This is a guide to the planning system in the UK; how planning applications are processed and how you can have a say in what can be built and what cannot.
|The planning system exists to make sure that things get built in the right place, and to stop the wrong things getting built. It makes sure that new uses for land and buildings are right for the location. In theory, the system helps to plan for the development the country needs, while protecting the natural and man-made environment. It is meant to ensure developments are 'sustainable' - in other words, that planning decisions will not damage the environment for future generations.|
Parliament and the Government set the framework for planning. Parliament makes the Planning Laws
and the Government issues statements of policy which local planning authorities (usually councils)
must take into account when their draw up their 'development plans' and take planning decisions.
Development control should make sure that changes to buildings and land and their uses are right for the site concerned, and that the wrong things do not get built. Consideration of planning applications and providing people with information about individual planning proposals are part the process.
Planning permission is required for any development. Planning law defines 'development' as: "the carrying out of building.... ,or the making of any material changes in the use of any building or other land."
Decisions about planning applications must take account of the area's development plan and must also consider the effect the proposal might have on the environment and the local community.
The council must publicise all applications and take relevant comments into account. All notices and advertisements should give a date by which you need to have made your comments. This date must be at least 21 days after the site notice is put up, or 14 days after the advertisement appears in the local newspaper.
The council must put details of all valid applications in the Statutory Register. This lists all current planning applications and past decisions. The register must be available to be viewed at all reasonable hours. It is normally kept at the council's main office.
Either the council's planning officers, or planning committee (made up of elected councillors) will decide an application. The process chosen depends on how the council has chosen to manage applications.
There is often some confusion about what councils can take into account when they consider comments on development proposals. It is important to realise that councils cannot reject a proposal simply because a lot of people are against it.
Only objections that are relevant to planning issues can be considered. For example; problems with traffic if the development went ahead; the effect a development might have on the environment; and the effect the proposal might have on the appearance of the surrounding areas.
Other issues sometimes come up, but they are not planning issues so the council cannot normally take them into account. Such issues include the effect a development might have on property values, the nature of the specific applicant, or any moral issues.
The key question for the planning system is whether the proposed use of the site would be acceptable in land use and environmental terms. This means that the issues of increased litter, noise and nuisance to local residents, and increased parking difficulties and traffic congestion are all valid concerns.
This document was based on a booklet entitled 'Planning - Charter Standards' produced by the Department of the Environment, the Welsh Office and the National Planning Forum.