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Home Ministry M4M (Ministry for Mission) M4M Mission Resources New Housing Engaging with the Planning System

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Engaging with the Planning System

by handrew last modified 25 Apr, 2017 01:54 PM

It helps to engage as early as possible with planning authorities so that the local church has a voice into the shaping of new developments in your area. This page explains the relevant planning processes and signposts useful resources.

The Planning Process

Click here for an overview of the planning process from Planning Aid.

And here's the Plain English Guide to the Planning System.

We strongly recommend that you register as an interested stakeholder with the planning policy/forward planning teams at your local planning authority. This will ensure that you are informed of any news and given updates on progress with local plans, neighbourhood plans and other strategic planning issues.

Look out for opportunities to register as a local stakeholder in the LPA's (Local Planning Authority) ''Statement of Community Involvement'. Once added to this list, you should be consulted on all relevant planning applications and local plan consultations. Have a look at the LPA's SCI to see who else is listed as a stakeholder, and how the LPA commits to engaging the community on planning issues.

National Planning Policy Framework:

In 2012 the Government published the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) as part of its reforms to simplify the planning process. This framework acts as guidance to local planning authorities in their decision-making for planning applications on a regional and local level.

Section 8, point 70 sets out the guidance most relevant to churches seeking to engage with planners or developers: 

“To deliver the social, recreational and cultural facilities and services the community needs, planning policies and decisions should:

  • plan positively for the provision and use of shared space, community facilities (such as local shops, meeting places, sports venues, cultural buildings, public houses and places of worship) and other local services to enhance the sustainability of communities and residential environments;

The inclusion of 'places of worship' among community facilities in the NPPF makes it possible to insist that the same provision should be written into both Local and Neighbourhood Plans. However, this provision is unlikely to be included in these plans without direct lobbying from churches. It is therefore key to get involved as early as possible in the drawing up of your Local Plans and Neighbourhood Plan (if one exists) to ensure that consideration is given to places of worship in any development. By the time individual planning applications are being made, it can be very challenging to get a developer to set aside land for anything other than that required of them by the local policy.

Local Plans

Neighbourhood plans

Planning Aid has a particularly comprehensive set of briefings for groups seeking to put together a Neighbourhood Plan, as well as a suite of resources.

The Department for Communities and Local Government offers funding to provide support and grants for groups wanting to write neighbourhood plans. Click here for more.

Community Infrastructure Levy

Planning Aid has a one page briefing on CIL here.

Look out for opportunities to add requests for new community facilities on the LPAs 'Regulation 123 list' which lists the items that LPAs should spend their CIL receipts on. Items not on this list can only get funded through S106 contributions where they are directly related to a specific planning application and needed to make that proposal acceptable in planning terms. The Regulation 123 lists are therefore a key area to engage with and should be updated regularly.

Useful websites:

Planning Aid England is a great website run by the Royal Town Planning Institute. It offers jargon-free explanations of the planning system, independent and free advice on planning issues. There is a particularly wonderful set of briefings on different aspects of the planning system here:

Planning Advisory Service is geared towards local authorities, but with some good in-depth  information should you be lobbying to change a Local Plan, considering a Neighbourhood Plan or wanting to understand the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) better.

Churches Together in England has a useful resource section for those interested in mission on new housing estates, though some of the information is slightly dated.

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