Non-statutory approaches to local planning
Although the indications are that the local authorities find such documents to be useful, central government has taken a less sanguine view of their continuing role within the local planning process, and the Department of the Environment is firmly set against their use. Current advice in Circular 22/84 (para. 1.13) is that 'where there is a need to devote resources to the preparation of proposals for the use of land, these should be settled in the statutory plan' rather than some other type of planning document. A role is recognized for non-statutory supplementary planning guidance, in the form of development control practice notes, development briefs and detailed or sketch layouts for housing or open space (ibid., para. 1.14). This advice is a re-statement of the line taken by the Department in the earlier development plan Circulars 55177 and 4179; the latter, for instance, judged that the preparation of informal land use plans by local authorities was' inappropriate' (para. 4.3). This attitude towards non-statutory plans appears to be founded on a concern with the public credibility of planning and with the protection of individual property rights and land values. The statutory local plan-making process enshrines a formal right of objection, whereas in preparing informal plans authorities are free to use whatever procedures they think suitable. However, the statutory procedures for local plan preparation leave the formal decision on whether or not to modify the plan as a
result of objections with the local planning authority (Chapter 3), attracting the charge that local authorities are effectively judge and jury in their own case.