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The Plan Led System

The planning system for England and Wales is set out in the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 and in more recent legislation.

Local development plans set out the broad framework for acceptable development in each area. They can include a number of documents. The principal plan in your area is called a Core Strategy. It is drawn up by the local planning authority, which is your local council (as in the council to which you pay council tax). It sets out the broad directions for development in your area and the main locations for change (such as large housing developments). The Core Strategy is often supplemented by other plans which go into detail on particular areas such as town centres or new housing areas. There may also be documents which cover matters such as design of buildings. In England, some areas now also have Neighbourhood Development Plans. Read our section on neighbourhood planning to find out more.

In London there is also a strategic London Plan for the whole city which is produced by the Mayor of London.

Local planning authorities have to pay regard to National Planning Policy in drawing up their core strategies and other plans. National Planning Policy covers overall matters such as economic growth, housing, shopping and green belts.

  • The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) sets out the policies for England. It was introduced in March 2012. It is supplemented by a series of Planning Practice Guidance (PPG) notes on specific issues such as air quality, climate change, and flood risk and coastal change.
  • Planning Policy Wales sets out the policies for Wales. It is supplemented by technical advice notes (TANs) and circulars on particular topics.

The Planning Act 2008 introduced a new planning system for nationally significant infrastructure projects. National policy for these projects is being set out in a series of National Policy Statements. Read our section on infrastructure planning to find out more.

Legislation

Town and Country Planning Act (TCPA) 1990

Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004

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