Department for Communities and Local Government
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Power back in people's hands to have a say over future development

Communities will have information at their fingertips thanks to a new plain English guide to the planning system.

Communities looking to have their say over the future development of their local area will have all the information they need at their fingertips, thanks to a new guide to the planning system published today (5 January 2015).

Housing and Planning Minister Brandon Lewis published a new plain English guide to how England’s planning system works, making clear the opportunities for people to get involved in the debate over what gets built in their neighbourhood.

Information at people’s fingertips

Since 2010 the government has implemented wide-ranging radical reforms of the planning system, including abolishing the unpopular and ineffective Regional Strategies and give local people a greater say over future building in their area.

Today’s new guide offers a quick and easy explanation of how the new planning system works, how local and neighbourhood plans are written and adopted locally, and how to go about obtaining planning permission.

Housing and Planning Minister Brandon Lewis said:

The previous system of top-down targets left residents powerless in the face of local development – our reforms have reversed this, and put people back in control.

People are already voting with their feet, with 1,200 communities involved in neighbourhood plans, and 80% of authorities have published a local plan – this plain English guide gives all the information anyone would need to get involved in the local decision-making process.

Supporting new free schools

Today, Brandon Lewis also published a new Plain English guide to the planning system for anyone looking to set up a free school in their area.

The guide makes clear the steps anyone looking to set up a free school needs to take. It highlights the role of the Education Funding Agency in helping to secure suitable premises and obtaining the appropriate planning permission for a new free school.

It also explains how councils have up to 13 weeks to make any planning decision on a free school and, once permission is granted, development must start within three years. It also explains what alterations can be made to free school premises without the need to apply for planning permission.

Reforming the planning system

The government’s planning reforms have helped ensure housebuilding levels are now at their highest since 2007, while in the year to September alone planning permissions were granted for 240,000 new homes. The reforms include:

  • the National Planning Policy Framework – which replaced over 1,000 pages of disparate policy into one 50-page, clearly-written document

  • safeguarding the green belt, giving councils new powers to protect assets of community value, preventing garden grabbing and protecting valuable open green spaces

  • the introduction of Neighbourhood Plans, devolving planning power to local people

  • an overhaul of the Local Plan making process, giving local planning authorities more choice in how they are developed, and ensuring the process is more transparent

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