South Yorkshire's planning system
Make sure you are in there at the beginning...
All planning applications have to be decided by the local planning authority in your area. And local planning authorities have to publish a range of policies and strategies to guide their decisions. These are based on government guidance, but written by planning officers after consulting local people. They then have to be approved by councillors and planning inspectors.
The planning system is complicated, and it's also currently changing. But it is crucial that you keep up with any changes in your local authority's over-arching planning policies, and also try to influence any changes in the future. Otherwise, you could be basing a campaign to fight a development on a policy that is now out of date!
The best way to keep in the loop is to speak to your planning policy unit and ask to be put on your local planning authority's consultation database - especially in relation to the new Local Development Frameworks that are being developed (see below).
Every planning application must also comply with a Regional Plan (sometimes called a Regional Spacial Strategy). These describe the region's strategic development and identify things like areas of growth and protection, housing and employment targets, renewable energy targets for each local authority.
South Yorkshire is part of Yorkshire and the Humber region, which adopted its plan in 2008. It is valid until 2026, but it is frequently changed and amended.
Unitary Development Plans - becoming Local Development Frameworks
The four local authorities in South Yorkshire have all had Unitary Development Plans as the main frameworks for deciding planning applications. Unitary Development Plans give details of where developments are allowed including housing, employment and community facilities. They also list places where development is controlled, for instance in nature conservation sites and the countryside. Unitary Development Plans also usually include policies about environmental impacts, affordable housing, flood prevention and use of materials and design.
Over the next couple of years, all these Unitary Development Plans will change to Local Development Frameworks - a new range of related documents. Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield are all at different stages, with Sheffield further ahead than its neighbours. Sheffield has got a Core Strategy now. This is the first stage in replacing its Unitary Development Plan with Local Development Framework.
Don't forget to get your name added to your local authority's consultation database so you can potentially influence the new frameworks!
A key element of the new Local Development Frameworks is the Core Strategy. It contains the main planning policies and lists areas where employment and housing can be limited or encouraged, plus a range of other documents.
Supplementary planning documents
Some things can't be dealt with properly in a Unitary Development Plan, and supplementary planning documents may cover them. New Local Development Frameworks will also include supplementary planning documents covering things like area design statements, design guides and how to identify adequate affordable housing provision. Supplementary planning documents can also make a difference to a planning application, so it's a good idea to be aware of them too.
Find out more at CPRE National Office's Planning Help.