National Planning Policy Framework

1. Building a strong, competitive economy

Paragraphs 18 to 22

18. The government is committed to securing economic growth in order to create jobs and prosperity, building on the country’s inherent strengths, and to meeting the twin challenges of global competition and of a low carbon future.

19. The government is committed to ensuring that the planning system does everything it can to support sustainable economic growth. Planning should operate to encourage and not act as an impediment to sustainable growth. Therefore significant weight should be placed on the need to support economic growth through the planning system.

20. To help achieve economic growth, local planning authorities should plan proactively to meet the development needs of business and support an economy fit for the 21st century.

21. Investment in business should not be over-burdened by the combined requirements of planning policy expectations. Planning policies should recognise and seek to address potential barriers to investment, including a poor environment or any lack of infrastructure, services or housing. In drawing up Local Plans, local planning authorities should:

  • set out a clear economic vision and strategy for their area which positively and proactively encourages sustainable economic growth
  • set criteria, or identify strategic sites, for local and inward investment to match the strategy and to meet anticipated needs over the plan period
  • support existing business sectors, taking account of whether they are expanding or contracting and, where possible, identify and plan for new or emerging sectors likely to locate in their area. Policies should be flexible enough to accommodate needs not anticipated in the plan and to allow a rapid response to changes in economic circumstances
  • plan positively for the location, promotion and expansion of clusters or networks of knowledge driven, creative or high technology industries
  • identify priority areas for economic regeneration, infrastructure provision and environmental enhancement
  • facilitate flexible working practices such as the integration of residential and commercial uses within the same unit

22. Planning policies should avoid the long term protection of sites allocated for employment use where there is no reasonable prospect of a site being used for that purpose. Land allocations should be regularly reviewed. Where there is no reasonable prospect of a site being used for the allocated employment use, applications for alternative uses of land or buildings should be treated on their merits having regard to market signals and the relative need for different land uses to support sustainable local communities.

Related guidance: Assessment of land availability