Planning system


Sometimes planning decisions can take too long. This can slow down or prevent people building new homes, creating new places and bringing disused or neglected land and buildings back into productive use.

We need to ensure that the planning rules or poorly managed planning processes do not unnecessarily prevent or delay development. We want to simplify planning approval processes and make our policies and guidance simpler and easier to follow.


To speed up the planning approval process, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has:

To speed up planning for nationally significant infrastructure projects (such as wind farms or motorways) we:

  • are reforming the infrastructure planning process to make sure it remains efficient
  • want to extend the scope of the major infrastructure planning system to include new categories of commercial and business development so that, where they’re of sufficient significance, they can be determined at a national level

DCLG also carries out many ongoing actions to ensure that the planning system stays effective and up to date.


  • make decisions about planning casework, compulsory purchase orders and land transaction cases through the National Planning Policy Framework
  • abolished the Infrastructure Planning Commission on 1 April 2012, so that decisions on national infrastructure proposals are now made by ministers advised by the Planning Inspectorate
  • can ‘call-in’ planning decisions and appeals to be decided by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government
  • oversee and support local planning authorities’ plan-making and decision-taking functions, mainly by providing planning laws, national planning policy and guidance


The Coalition Agreement set out the government’s commitment to publish and present to Parliament a simple and consolidated national planning framework covering all forms of development and setting out national economic, environmental and social priorities by April 2012. On 27 March 2012 the National Planning Policy Framework (the ‘Framework’) was published.

The Framework was produced following an extensive consultation with Parliament and the public. The final Framework retains all of the most important elements of the draft Framework published in July 2011, including:

  • making sure the local plan - produced by communities - is the keystone of the planning system
  • making planning much simpler and more accessible, reducing over 1,000 pages of often impenetrable jargon into around 50 pages of clearly written guidance
  • establishing a presumption in favour of sustainable development that means that development is not held up unless to approve it would be against our collective interest
  • guaranteeing strong protections for the natural and historic environment, and requiring improvements to put right some of the neglect that has taken place
  • raising design standards so that the requirements for design are the most exacting yet

Who we’ve consulted

We’ve consulted on various aspects of planning reform, including:

Bills and legislation

The Localism Act 2011 introduced a number of changes to the planning system, including transferring decisions on major infrastructure projects from the Infrastructure Planning Commission to ministers.

Further changes to the Planning Act 2008 will be introduced.

Who we are working with

Local planning authorities prepare development plans, based on consultation with local communities, which set out their overall plans for development in their area.

Local planning authorities are also responsible for development management. This includes making planning decisions, complying with the law about publicising, consulting on and determining most applications for planning permission, taking into account the opinions of local people and others.

They can also offer pre-application advice to prospective developers and enforce planning laws in their area. Appeals against refusal of planning permission and inquiries are dealt with by the Planning Inspectorate

The Planning Portal includes advice on planning permission, online applications and guidance on how the system works.

Further information on planning for major infrastructure projects can be found on the Planning Inspectorate website