Last edited 14 Mar 2018

Local planning authority

The local planning authority is usually the planning department of the district or borough council.

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) defines a local planning authority as, 'the public authority whose duty it is to carry out specific planning functions for a particular area. All references to local planning authority apply to the district council, London borough council, county council, Broads Authority, National Park Authority and the Greater London Authority, to the extent appropriate to their responsibilities.'

The planning portal provides a service enabling people to find out who their local planning authority is: Find a local planning authority.

Very broadly, the responsibilities of the local planning authority include;

  • Producing a local plan: This is a framework for the future development of an area defining strategic policies, the framework for neighbourhood plans, land allocations, infrastructure requirements housing needs, requirements for safeguarding the environment, measures for adapting to climate change and so on. (See Local plan). Local plans are also the starting-point for considering whether planning applications should be approved. The framework states that If a plan is absent, silent or out of date, permission should be granted, unless there are significant and demonstrable reasons not to grant permission.
  • Enforcement: Acting proportionately in response to suspected breaches of planning control.

The National Planning Policy Framework requires that plan making and decision taking:

  • 'Should be genuinely plan-led.
  • Should be a creative exercise, not just one of scrutiny.
  • Should be proactive in driving and supporting sustainable development.
  • Should seek and secure high quality.
  • Should take account of the diverse character of different areas.
  • Should support the transition to a climate-resilient, low-carbon economy.
  • Should contribute to conserving and enhancing the natural environment and reducing pollution.
  • Should encourage the use of brownfield land.
  • Should encourage mixed-use development.
  • Should conserve heritage.
  • Should maximise the use of public transport, walking and cycling.
  • Should support health, social and cultural wellbeing.'

Local planning authorities can be placed under special measures if they fail to determine 70% or more of the major applications they handle within 13 weeks (applications for 10 homes or more, or the equivalent commercial floorspace), or if more than 20% of major applications decisions are overturned on appeal.

Local planning authorities under special measures will have applications determined by the planning inspectorate and will lose a proportion of the application fee. Special measures designation will be reviewed annually to allow improving authorities to regain their determination powers.

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