Planning Help Menu


Planning decisions in your area are made by the local planning authority (usually your district or unitary council). Individual planning decisions have to be made in line with the policies laid out in a tiered series of strategic documents. These go from local plans, that cover a whole county or city, to individual neighbourhood plans and village design statements. Each of these documents must reflect the needs and desires of the communities they cover. This means that you and your neighbourhood group can have a role in shaping them.

Getting involved in the creation of local and neighbourhood plans is the best way to shape your local area and ensure that future development meets the needs of your community. This section contains descriptions of the main documents that govern development in your area, and our guides on how you can influence their creation.

Local Plans set out the big decisions on planning for the future of your community and land. They outline the long-term strategy for each planning authority.

These plans are created by your parish council, town council, or neighbourhood forum. They contain more detailed priorities for development in your community, such as the provision of low-cost housing or the preservation of green space.
At the most local level, this reflects how residents of your area wish to see it develop over coming years. This optional document is more community-led and can reflect the needs of an individual town or village and surrounding countryside.
Creating a new park or renovating your village hall are among many great ways to improve your local area. Whether you are a community group seeking a new home, or a parish council creating new playing fields, understanding the planning process will increase the chances of your application gaining approval.
Preserve the unique visual character of your village and surrounding area by helping write a Village Design Statement.
Long-term planning for the future economic, social and environmental wellbeing of your area will be laid out in your council's Sustainable Communities Strategy.
The unique natural beauty of an area can be described in a Landscape Character Assessment, which is then used to inform local and neighbourhood plans.


If you have heard about a new development in your area, reading the planning application is the best way of understanding its potential impact. Whether you have a special interest, like archaeology or wildlife preservation, or more general concerns about the kind of development your area needs, the pages in this section will help you present your views effectively to the right people.

From appropriately repairing a listed building to the creation of new industrial areas, planning decisions can impact whole communities. Planning decisions are made by local planning authorities, and are shaped by national guidance, European law and local plans and policies

These pages will help you understand how the planning system functions and the important role you and your community can play in shaping the future of your town, city, village or neighbourhood.

Once a planning decision has been made only the applicant can appeal against that decision. Appeals of refusals of planning permission are heard and decided by a Planning Inspector. There is no third party right of appeal for other people who disagree with the local council’s decision.

Anyone can challenge a planning decision in the courts, however, if they have evidence that the planning decision was not made following the proper procedures. Legal challenges cannot take into account whether the decision was right or not in planning terms, only whether regulations and conventions about making decisions were properly followed. Challenging a planning decision in the courts is a difficult and costly process, and should not be undertaken without specialist legal advice.

The planning system protects the environment, helps meet the needs of the local community, and supports the economy. It does this by ensuring that new developments are appropriate. Where planning controls are not enforced, detrimental development can occur.

Local councils depend on members of the public to be their 'eyes and ears' on breaches of planning control. They may not know about problems unless you tell them. If you are concerned that a new development doesn't have planning permission, or is in breach of its planning conditions, the information here will help you contact your council.

Whatever you care about, it is almost certain that there are other people who feel the same way. Working together with like-minded people is the best way to have a voice on issues that affect your lives. Whether you want to save your local park or change national planning legislation, community action can be the best way to achieve your aims.

We have put together a range of resources to help you plan an effective campaign, communicate your message and gather people to your cause.

England's planning system exists to ensure that all new development integrates the different needs of community, economy and environment. Recent changes allow local communities to have a greater say in how their area develops and how local needs are met. This section explores how we can all can get involved in the planning system, and use our local knowledge, our sense of what we value, and our desire to make a difference to improve our area.
To the left are a list of case studies that show what can be achieved by challenging a planning decision. Selected highlights are below.
This case study shows how you can have a say in the decisions your council makes about energy projects.
To the left are a list of case studies that show how you can have a say in the decisions your council makes that affect what gets built in your local area. Selected highlights are below.
To the left are a list of case studies that show how you can have a say in the decisions your council makes that affect the look of countryside or open spaces around you.  Selected highlights are below.
This case study demonstrates how you can stop developers breaking the rules.
To the left are a list of case studies that show how you can have a say in the decisions your council or the UK government makes about transport projects. Selected highlights are below.
To the left are a list of case studies that show what can be achieved by working to influence the development of local plans. Selected highlights are below.
To the left are a list of case studies that show what can be achieved by commenting on planning applications. Selected highlights are below.

The town and country planning system shapes new building all over the country. It can protect the countryside from sprawl, and it gives everyone a chance to have their say.

city map

Intro to Neighbourhood planning to go here

Kate to write introduction

Intro to history to go here

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. If that's okay, just continue browsing - or see our cookies policy for ways to opt out.