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Overview of planning

Image of building blueprint.
Sven Mieke/Unsplash

The planning process – what gets built where

From an individual home-owner extension to the development of a new ‘garden town’, the overall process of agreeing on ‘what gets built where’ has many layers. As an individual, or as an organisation, you may be interested or involved in a certain area or part of the process.

The system exists, theoretically, to ensure that the development and use of land is in the public interest. Weighing up its economic, environmental and social benefits and drawbacks. It plays a key role in helping to make the places where we live and work are attractive, vibrant and well designed.

The planning system can help secure development that supports regeneration and that meets the needs of local communities. It can support the provision of affordable housing and other necessary development. It can make sure that building takes into account the surroundings and enhances their character. And it can prevent development where it would cause unacceptable environmental damage. Understanding the process is crucial to ensuring any kind of planning and development is held to account within this system.

At CPRE Hampshire, we are well placed to help you understand your part in the overall puzzle. One of our core aims is to continue to work at every level of this planning process, to campaign for and ensure there is right kind of development, in the right place, whilst protecting our beautiful Hampshire countryside.

To understand decisions around planning the bigger picture is key

In England, we have planning law and regulations that feed into the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). Current planning law is under review and will be embedded in the new Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill which is currently making its way through parliament.

The NPPF, first published in 2012, was revised in July 2018, updated in February 2019 and is also currently under review. The government consulted on new content for the NPPF in early 2023. We are still waiting for responses to that consultation

The NPPF applies only to England and sets out the approach for producing Local Plans for housing and other development.

Local Plans

Local Plans are a critical part of the planning process. They are used to help decide on planning applications and other related decisions. In effect, they are the local guide to what can be built where, shaping infrastructure and determining the future pattern of development across a district. Local Plans are developed at district level and are reviewed every 5 years. There will always be some work going on in your area for your local plan at any given time whether it’s review, consultation or a completely new plan.

It is when Local Plans are being prepared therefore that you can have the most influence over shaping the future of your local area. Once the Local Plan is adopted, many of the big decisions have usually been made, and your influence becomes more limited.

It is therefore important that all of us – the public – and our community representatives, such as parish and town councillors, are aware of when and how to engage with Local Plans, in order to have our say about how we would like our cities, towns and villages to change and develop. If you don’t speak up, you won’t be heard!

We’re here to help

CPRE Hampshire are undertaking work on planning issues, on all levels, all of the time. Hopefully, you will find this ‘planning portal’ of use in understanding the planning process and what you can do to make your voice heard.

If you would like specific help or advice for something going on in your local area, please contact your district group lead.

Planning explainer videos

For more detailed information on the planning process overall, we have some short films you may find of use.

View explainer videos

Further resources

Please find links to further guides and resources on the national CPRE website:

CPRE Hampshire has produced some handy local plan resources: