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English Planning Policy and Practice - Development Plans

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Article Index
English Planning Policy and Practice
Development Plans
National Planning Policy in England
Types of Application
Making Decisions
Material Considerations
Areas subject to particular designation
Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas
Minimum Distances and Moratoria
Human Rights Act
European Union Law
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Development Plans

Under section 38(6) of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 and section 70(2) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 the development plan is the starting point for consideration of development proposals. However, it does not alone determine the outcome of the decision making process. The development plan should be up to date and consistent with national policy. A series of statutes are relevant to most planning decisions. The most important pieces of planning legislation are:

Town and Country Planning Act 1990

Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004

Planning Act 2008

The development plan system has been revised but, even now, parts of the old system are still retained until the process of updating is completed. This is taking far longer than was originally anticipated by Government. In most instances the development plan will comprise the only a local plan, a unitary development plan (for unitary authorities) or one (or more) local development plan documents.

These documents may be new or date back some years.

Under the new system the local documents form part of a local development framework. This comprises local development documents, which include development plan documents (that forms part of the statutory development plan) and supplementary planning documents (which expand upon policies set out in a development plan document or provide additional detail) but will not form part of the development plan. The local development framework also includes a statement of community involvement, a local development scheme and an annual monitoring report.

Under the former system a number of documents may also form part of the development plan and may be relevant but only if the particular policies have been "saved" by a specific direction from the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (DCLG). In areas where counties exist the County Council Structure Plan (or parts of it) may also have been saved, at least for the present.

The Regional Strategies and Structure Plans (which used to form part of the development plan) have mostly been abolished. In a very limited number of cases some policies of some Regional Strategies and Structure Plans may continue to form part of the development plan. This is normally due to very locationally specific reasons (such as the green belt designation or special habitat protection). However, in the vast majority of cases it is only the local development documents that are relevant.

sphave proposed to be abolished by the Localism Bill) and the District or Borough Council Local Plan. In areas where a single unitary authority exists, there is normally one plan, the Unitary Development Plan.

The NPPF continues the Government's policy on development plans and confirms the Government's commitment to a Plan led system, outlines the key issues on the content of Development Plans and the general approach for preparing them.

The National Planning Policy Framework

Most development plans contain policies relating to telecommunications development. However, whether these policies represent a significant consideration may depend on a range of factors including how up to date they are and whether they accord with national telecommunications policy.

Copies of development plans and local development frameworks can be obtained from local planning authorities (LPAs) and many are accessible on LPA websites or the Planning Portal.


Ten Commitments

Central to the operators’ approach to network development is consultation with local communities, planning officers and other stakeholders on any proposed new developments. Pre-application consultation is included in the operators’ ‘Ten Commitments to Best Siting Practice’, which has existed since 2001 to help address concerns relating to the development of base stations, and which is now contained in planning guidance throughout the UK.

Sharing Sites

Mobile phone users in the UK increasingly want better coverage and greater capacity so they can access more services on their phones. While this means that new base stations will still be needed, network operators seek to share sites wherever possible. Site sharing helps reduce energy consumption and the overall environmental footprint of networks, as well as improving the quality of coverage.