THE ENGLISH SPATIAL PLANNING SYSTEM
In 2004, the spatial planning system in England was introduced through LDFs and Regional Spatial Strategies (RSSs). This change in approach from development or land-use planning to spatial planning was set out in the 2004 Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act. The LDF is a loose-leaf approach to the preparation of spatial plans for an area comprising of individual Development Plan Documents (DPDs). DPDs include the Core Strategy or overarching document, issue or thematic documents and Area Action Plans (AAPs). In addition to DPDs, Supplementary Planning Documents can be prepared and these do not follow the same process of examination but can be adopted locally. The programme of preparation for each of the LDF documents is contained in the Local Development Scheme (LDS) and the process has to be accompanied by a Statement of Community Involvement (SCI). Under the preceding approach, the Unitary Development Plan (UDP) was examined in an adversarial public process to determine whether it could be adopted as the development plan for the area. Under the post-2004 approach, each DPD is examined in an inquisitorial process by a planning inspector. This process commences from the time that any DPD is submitted and, although there may be a hearing as part of this examination, this only comprises one part of the process. The introduction of a spatial planning approach has led to some significant differences in the practice of planning as might be expected. First, it is integrated within the local governance structures and takes its lead from the SCS. Second, rather than being a policy-based approach that characterises development planning, it has moved to a delivery role, integrating the investment requirements and the means of delivering them at the local level. Spatial planning also has a role in delivering other local objectives including the targets set out in the LAAs and the transformation of public service delivery locations. It also has responsibility for reviewing and identifying public sector assets for release. In development planning, the delivery of the plan proposals was undertaken by others. In spatial planning, the delivery is a proactive role for development management. In the former system, the regulatory approach was focussed on achieving contributions for infrastructure from those promoting development, primarily the private sector. Within the spatial planning approach, the LDF is responsible for integrating the investment from all sectors as far as possible and coordinating public sector investment as part of this. This integrated delivery
role is undertaken within the local governance architecture, particularly under the leadership of the LSP. LDFs are undertaken by district, unitary, metropolitan and London authorities. County councils are responsible for preparing waste and minerals LDFs. In two-tier local government areas, county councils have to cooperate with the district councils in the preparation of the LDF. At regional level, the RSS was prepared by the Regional Assembly and had an Examination in Public. The LDF had to be in general conformity with the RSS. This will be tested by the planning inspector. In 2010, Regional Strategies replaced RSS (CLG and BIS 2010). This chapter sets out the way in which spatial planning is being delivered in England through the LDF. It identifies the key components of the LDF. In order to be successful, LDFs have to work in an integrated way at the local level in both practical and formal ways. The components of an LDF are set out and the ways in which they work together are discussed. There is a discussion on the way in which DPDs are examined by a planning inspector, defined as the independent person, to assess whether they are to be found ‘sound’. There is no formal examination of the LDF as a whole.