Development Context

Planning Framework


Planning Policy plays a key role in moving us towards more sustainable development.  The Government has reformed the planning system for England and Wales, and is further promoting sustainable development, including sustainable construction, as part of this reform.

“Planning shapes the places where people live and work and the country we live in. The Government believes that planning should do this in ways which are sustainable and which will meet the needs of future generations as well as our own. Sustainable development is the core principle underpinning planning. The Government is committed to creating sustainable communities: communities that will stand the test of time, where people want to live, and which will enable people to meet their aspirations and potential”

Draft Planning Policy Statement PPS 1 “Creating Sustainable Communities”

The Existing Planning Framework

Recent changes to the Planning Framework

Planning Policy Guides & Statements & Sustainable Construction

Regional Planning Guidance & Sustainable Construction

Regional Spatial Strategies

Supplementary Planning Guidance & Sustainable Construction

Welsh Planning Policy



The Existing Planning Framework

Until recently the planning framework consisted of the following elements:

Planning Policy Guides

These set out the strategic national objectives which the planning system aims to deliver and form the basis of developing regional and local planning policy guidance.

Regional Planning Guidance

These interpret national planning policy and apply it at a regional level, also setting out particular policy objectives relevant to the region.

Local Plans

These are developed by each local authority to establish how the authority will take forward national and regional objectives while at the same time addressing local requirements such as: housing, employment, health, education, biodiversity, air quality and transport. They consist of a series of policy statements and supporting information that new developments must take into account.

Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG)

Supplementary planning guidance is generally prepared to explain in greater detail the policy commitments established in the local plan.  SPGs have typically covered a specific design issue such as “Designing for Energy Efficiency” or “Design of Cycle and Pedestrian Routes”, or have provided a more detailed development brief for a particular area identified for development in the local plan.  

The Local Plan and any Supplementary Planning Guidance to which it refers, will typically be the documents to which a developer will refer. 


Recent Changes to Planning

The Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act came into force in July of 2004 and has created wide-ranging changes to the planning policy framework.  As a result of this act and other influences including the European Commission’s Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive the following broad changes have occurred:

Planning Policy Statements

As Planning Policy Guides are updated they will be replaced by Planning Policy Statements, which will continue to serve the function of setting strategic national objectives for planning.

Regional Spatial Strategies

Existing Regional Planning Guidance will be replaced by Regional Spatial Strategies.  These will establish regional planning objectives linking these more effectively to employment and transport strategies. The ODPMs Planning Policy Statement 11 provides further guidance on Regional Spatial Strategies.

Local Development Frameworks

Local plans, unitary development plans and structure plans are to be replaced by Local Development Frameworks that will be supported by Local Development Documents. The ODPMs Planning Policy Statement 12 provides further guidance on Local Development Frameworks.

Supplementary Planning Documents and Area Action Plans

Issues that would previously have been dealt with by Supplementary Planning Guidance will now be addressed through Supplementary Planning Documents or by Area Action Plans for site specific guidance.

Sustainability Appraisal

Under the European Directive on Strategic Environmental Assessment and the UK’s Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act, it is now a requirement for a sustainability appraisal to be carried out as part of the development of Regional Spatial Strategies, and Local Development Documents.

The aim is to ensure that national, regional and local objectives relating to sustainability are being effectively implemented through local and regional plan development.  This will add growing pressure for development proposals to address sustainable development issues.


Planning Policy Guides & Statements & Sustainable Construction

There are a number of existing Planning Policy Guides (PPGs) and emerging Planning Policy Statements that are of particular relevance to Sustainable Design and Construction.  Examples include:

  • PPG 3 Housing: promotes mixed-use development of previously developed land close to public transport amenities. 
  • PPG 13 Transport: encourages the integration of development with public transport infrastructure and measures to promote walking and cycling in preference to the car.
  • PPS 22 Renewable Energy: states that spatial strategies and local development documents should contain policies designed to promote and encourage, rather than restrict, the development of renewable energy resources.
  • PPG 25 Development and Flood Risk: encourages the use of sustainable urban drainage strategies as part of measures to reduce risk of flooding.

Planning Policy Guides and Planning Policy Statements can be downloaded from the ODPM’s website at:

Draft Planning Policy Statement 1 ‘Creating Sustainable Communities’

The draft PPS 1 ‘Creating Sustainable Communities’ sets out the Government’s vision for planning and the key policies and principles, which should underpin the planning system.  This places sustainable development at the core of the planning system and also establishes policy relating to Sustainable Design and Construction.

Extract (Paragraph 1.21)

‘Policies should reflect a preference for minimising the need to consume new resources over the lifetime of the development by making more efficient use or reuse of existing resources rather than making new demands on the environment; and for seeking to promote and encourage, rather than restrict, the development of renewable energy resources. Consideration should be given to encouraging energy efficient buildings, community heating schemes, and the use of combined heat and power in developments.’

The draft PPS 1 can be downloaded from the planning section of the ODPM’s website.

Planning Policy Statement 22 ‘Renewable Energy’

This new policy statement on planning and renewables includes statements to encourage the use of renewable energy generation in new developments:

Extract (Paragraph 1):

Regional spatial strategies and local development documents should contain policies designed to promote and encourage, rather than restrict, the development of renewable energy resources.

Extract (Paragraph 8):

Local planning authorities may include policies in local development documents that require a percentage of the energy to be used in new residential, commercial or industrial developments to come from on-site renewable energy developments


Regional Planning Guidance and Sustainable Construction

In line with National planning policy, Regional Planning Policy Guides and emerging Regional Spatial Strategies now place a strong emphasis on sustainable development. Regional Planning Guidance places a requirement on local authorities to develop policies to address sustainable design and construction issues including:

  • Improving access to public transport and improving facilities for pedestrians and cyclists.
  • Reducing carbon emissions in line with regional targets.
  • Promoting the use of renewable energy to achieve regional targets.
  • Reducing use of resources including establishing policy on:
  • Energy efficient design of buildings e.g. insulated lofts
  • Promoting the uptake of water conservation measures
  • Encouraging sustainable water supply, drainage and treatment strategies
  • Waste management in construction
  • Provision waste management and recycling facilities for use in occupation
  • Reusing and recycling demolition and construction waste.

As part of this project we have in particular looked at:

The Draft Revised Regional Planning Guidance for Yorkshire and Humber (RPG 12)

The current and draft planning guidance for the South East (RPG 9)


Regional Spatial Strategies

Under the new planning regime in England each region must produce a Regional Spatial Strategies (RSS) focusing on outlining regional polices, targets and indicators.

Planning polices included with the RSS that may influence sustainable design and construction include:

  • ‘Spatial objectives and policies’ – objectives and policies that can be expressed in a way that influences the location and scale of development (the ’where in the region’, ‘how much’ and ‘how big’).
  • Priorities (in terms of location and scale of development) for economic development; housing; transport and communications; the environment (including water, minerals and waste, and energy generation and use); and urban and rural regeneration.
  • It will also continue to include a Regional Transport Strategy (RTS).


Supplementary Planning Guidance & Sustainable Construction

Local Authorities are beginning to develop supplementary planning guides or Supplementary Planning Documents on sustainable construction and to enforce these through the use of Sustainability Checklists or by requiring the preparation of a Sustainability Statement.

Where these are referred to in Local Plans or Local Development Frameworks, they will be a material consideration to which developers need to respond. Further information and examples of these is included in the planning mechanisms section of this site.


Welsh Planning Policy

Currently, Welsh planning policy guidance consists of the following:

  • Planning Guidance (Wales) Planning Policy supported by a series of Technical Advice Notes (TANs) and Circulars
  • Minerals Planning Policy Wales
  • Unitary Development Plans Wales

The Government’s Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act will also affect the planning system in Wales although the proposed changes will be different.

Wales Spatial plan

The Welsh Assembly Government is committed to preparing a Wales Spatial Plan. This will be a spatial expression of the Assembly’s policies. It will address issues of development and restraint on a broad scale and provide a framework for major decisions. It will also provide a context for local plan and decision-making. The Spatial Plan is also intended to be a document created through partnership, drawing on the work of the local authorities and others.

The first Wales Spatial Plan, People, Places, Futures: The Wales Spatial Plan, was launched for consultation in September 2003,

Technical Advice Notes (TANs)

The following TANs relating to sustainable construction are currently being revised:

  • TAN 5 Nature Conservation and Planning (1996) – scheduled to issue for public consultation in June 2004
  • TAN 8 Renewable Energy (1996) - public consultation closed in October 2004.
  • TAN 15 Development and Flood Risk (1998) – issued for public consultation in July 2003
  • TAN 18 Transport (1998) – scheduled to re-issue for public consultation in Winter 2003/04

TAN 8 Renewable Energy Consultation includes:

“The Assembly Government is keen to ensure that all new buildings being constructed in Wales are to a high standard of energy efficiency and that suitable renewable energy technologies are incorporated wherever reasonably feasible.”

“Building Regulations determine minimum energy efficiency standards in buildings, both new build and those existing buildings that are the subject of building work. The Welsh Assembly Government encourages private and social sector house builders to develop properties which offer energy efficiency and renewable energy measures which exceed the requirements of the Building Regulations.”

“Local planning authorities will need to very clearly justify any refusal of planning permission for PV installations in the light of strong government support for this technology.”

Sub regional planning

It is proposed that the Spatial Plan will draw on sub-regional planning work and that this will also feed directly into development plans.

Unitary development plans

The Welsh Assembly considers the time taken to prepare UDPs is too long.  This makes it difficult for them to adapt to changing national policies and local circumstances. Most emerging UDPs are considered too complex and detailed, while almost all unnecessarily repeat national planning policy.

Reform of UDPs is proposed that enables clearer community involvement in the process, particularly since development plans and community strategies have to be consistent.  Three options are proposed:

Leave the present system of UDPs in place, as most local authorities have made progress on them.

Introduce new style Local Development Plans  (LDPs), by changing the UDP regulations at a future date to include the benefits of a more streamlined content and process whilst minimising the disruption and uncertainty caused by introducing a completely new system of development plans.

Introduce local development frameworks, as proposed for England. These would replace UDPs with a statement of core policies setting out an authority’s vision for promoting and controlling development in its area, and be supported by Action Plans.

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