Country Introduction

Summary of spatial plannng system

Responsibilities for spatial planning at the national, regional and local level, including the policy themes covered at each level National: Central Government plays an important role in spatial planning. It is responsible for the supervision and control of the planning system and it issues national planning policy guidance and approves and issues regional planning guidance. Although the control of spatial planning is generally uniform across the UK, there are some differences between England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Each country has its own Secretary of State (a senior minister) responsible for planning. The remainder of this table focuses on the approach in England.

Regional: At present Regional Planning Bodies in England prepare Regional Planning Guidance which is approved and issued by national government. Changes to spatial planning in England through the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Bill will bring about some fundamental changes including a new emphasis on regional planning through Regional Spatial Strategies.

County Councils, along with District Councils, or where the two levels are combined (in Unitary Authorities), have the main responsibility for land use planning. Between them they regulate development and formulate local policy instruments. They have power to ensure that development and uses comply with regulations and policy and are responsible for granting planning permission for proposed development in their area. County Councils are responsible for preparing the structure plan, minerals plan and waste plans, and for some regulation. The responsibilities of County Councils will change under the planning reforms, as discussed in relation to plan making below.

District Councils are responsible for the local plan, listed building control and development regulation. Unitary Councils (single areas that have responsibility for county and district functions) are responsible for all planning functions including waste and minerals. Within England there are 33 London Boroughs, 34 County Councils, 238 District Councils, 46 Unitary Authorities, and 36 Unitary Metropolitan District Councils.


Relevant Legislation 

Planning Act 2008  
The Planning Act 2008 was granted Royal Assent on 26 November 2008. The Act builds on the proposals set out in the Planning White Paper and introduces a new system for nationally significant infrastructure planning, alongside further reforms to the town and country planning system and the introduction of a Community Infrastructure Levy.

Click here for the Planning Act 2008


Key Literature 

Planning Law and Practice (15/12/2008) 

Following the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004, the third edition of this book by J. Cameron Blackhall, contains a complete revision of plan making and the control of development as well as incorporating recent case law. Together this provides up-to-date details of the opration of the current English planning system.

Oxon: Cavendish publishing 2008, ISBN: 10-1-85941-748-5

Leren van de Engelse praktijk van Gebiedsontwikkeling (15/12/2008) 
De praktijkleerstoel Gebiedsontwikkeling aan de TU Delft heeft onlangs een onderzoek afgerond naar de Engelse praktijk van de gebiedsontwikkeling. Centraal stond de taak- en rolverdeling van overheid en ontwikkelende marktpartijen. bij gebiedsontwikkeling met de vraag of wij wat kunnen leren van de Engelse praktijk van gebiedsontwikkeling. Dit tegen de achtergrond van de zoektocht in ons land van overheid en marktpartijen naar volwassen, effectieve verhoudingen waarin gebiedsontwikkelingen op tijd, met kwaliteit en met een goede kostenbatenverhouding tot stand kunnen komen.

Building Business, mei 2008


Relevant Policies

Planning White Paper (08/04/2009) 
The Planning White Paper Planning for a Sustainable Future sets out our detailed proposals for reform of the planning system, building on Kate Barker’s recommendations for improving the speed, responsiveness and efficiency in land use planning, and taking forward Kate Barker’s and Rod Eddington’s proposals for reform of major infrastructure planning. These proposals were consulted on over the summer of 2007. The Government’s response to the consultation was published on 27 November 2007. It’s conclusions informed the proposals in the Planning Bill.

For the Planning White paper click here.


Planning Policy Statement 22: Renewable Energy (08/04/2009) 

Planning Policy Statement 22 (PPS22) sets out the Government’s policies for renewable energy, which planning authorities should have regard to when preparing local development documents and when taking planning decisions. This replaces Planning Policy Guidance 22 (PPG22).

For Policy Statement 22 click here.


Relevant Websites (click title to go to website)

Planning Policy Statement 12: Local Spatial Planning
Planning Policy Statement 12 (PPS12) explains what local spatial planning is, and how it benefits communities. It also sets out what the key ingredients of local spatial plans are and the key government policies on how they should be prepared. It should be taken into account by local planning authorities in preparing development plan documents and other local development documents.

Government: About planning, building and the environment
We are the Government Department responsible for planning policy and building regulations in England.

Planning shapes the places where people live and work and the country we live in. Good planning ensures that we get the right development, in the right place, at the right time. It makes a positive difference to people’s lives and helps to provide homes, jobs, and better opportunities for everyone. At the same time, it protects and enhances the natural and historic environment, and conserves the countryside and open spaces that are important to everyone.

As part of our role to protect and enhance the environment, we are working to tackle climate change – one of the most serious challenges facing us today. The Government’s target is to bring about a 20 per cent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2010 and a 80 per cent reduction by 2050.



The Killian Pretty Review
Planning applications: a faster and more responsive system. Final report
The aim of the review was to investigate the opportunities for improving the planning application process for the benefit of all involved.The final report was published on 24 November 2008

For the report click here

Government Response to the Killian Pretty Review
This document sets out the Government’s response to the Killian Pretty Review Final Report (5 march 2009).

For the response click here.