Planning in England

The Planning System in England can appear to be very complicated to anyone who is involved in any aspect of it. This is largely because it is complex. It is a system that deals with people’s rights and affects people’s lives very directly in some cases. For these reasons, the system has a number of stages and processes designed to ensure that decisions made are based on rigorous evidence and an analysis of alternative solutions and that communities have an opportunity to be involved in a constructive way.

Planning in the United Kingdom operates at five levels:

Planning application

Many people who want to influence planning decisions and to set out their own vision for an area will do so at the local level. But it is necessary to look at the levels above local policies and decisions on planning applications. European, national and regional policies have a real effect on what can be built where and contain safeguards not only for the protection of land but for your right to be consulted.

Importantly, the major decisions that affect housing numbers, for example, or the nature of major schemes such as roads or airports will not be taken at the local level. This can feel frustrating when you are commenting on a housing scheme in your area, only to find that the principles behind new development in the area have already been agreed at national or regional levels. The government’s rationale is that housing demand tends to operate at a regional or sub-regional level so overall housing numbers need to be looked at from a more strategic viewpoint.