In our article “3 secrets to writing better planning objections” we discussed that:
~ planning applications are decided based on planning policy,
~ the experts frequently quote planning policies, and
~ a strong planning objection includes quoting planning policy as part of your argument.
But where to find planning policy?
Layers of Planning Policy
There are several “layers”, for lack of a better word, of planning policy.
Note: the NPPF has gone through several revisions over the years. The latest was in July 2021. If you find documents prior to this that quote paragraphs that don’t seem to make sense now, then it is because the paragraph numbers have changed over the years.
The middle layer of policy is created by the District Council. For us it’s Babergh and Mid Suffolk. This is where it gets a little complicated due to temporary circumstances.
Current documents are also known as “Adopted Policy”. You can find the adopted policies here.
Babergh last produced planning policy documents called the Local Plan (2006) and Core Strategy (2014). These are now kind of out of date. And so a list of “Saved Policies” is also available. If you find a policy you like in the Local Plan or the Core Strategy please double check it against the list of Saved Policies. If it is listed and it is relevant to your argument then quote it. If it isn’t listed then it is no longer policy.
Mid Suffolk last produced planning policy documents called the Local Plan (1998 – yes that’s not a typo), the Core Strategy (2008) and Core Strategy Focused Review (2012). Again these are now kind of out of date. So there is also a list of “Saved Policies“. As above, if you find a policy you like in the Local Plan or the Core Strategy please double check it against the list of Saved Policies. If it is listed and it is relevant to your argument then quote it. If it isn’t listed then it is no longer policy.
Since Mid Suffolk and Babergh merged there has been consultation to create a new “Joint Local Plan“. This is not yet an adopted document, which means it is not yet the superseding policy. However it is far enough along in the consultation process that it can be quoted. But it is important to note that the old plans carry more weight because they are fully approved. When you visit the Joint Local Plan website please note that there are several documents. Babergh and Mid Suffolk Pre-Submission Joint Local Plan – Part 1 and 2 – (Objectives, Strategic Policies and Local Policies) is the main one you want. But if you have time take a gander through them all.
The bottom level (although it still carries just as much weight as all the above policies) are called Neighbourhood Plans. Your village may have a Village Plan for example. And this is where this comes in. The best place to find your village Neighbourhood Plan (if you have one) is on your Parish Council website. If you don’t have one then don’t panic. Though you may want to nudge your Parish Councillors to see if one if warranted.
But wait, there’s more. In fact there is a lot more. There is planning policy guidance for almost every industry and topic out there.
Building Research Establishment (BRE) have produced a significant number of documents on planning guidance.
~ BRE Agricultural Good Practice for Solar Farms
~ BRE Community engagement good practice guidance for solar farms
~ BRE Biodiversity Guidance for Solar Developments
~ BRE Planning guidance for the development of large scale ground mounted solar PV systems
The Department for Transport has a document called Manual for the Streets which is full of Highways related planning policy.
The UK Government has produced the UK PV Strategy guidance policy.
Mid Suffolk also have the Strategic Flood Risk Assessment (2008) which gives guidance on flood and water management policy.
The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 offers planning guidance relating to biodiversity.
Suffolk County Council have even produced an Energy Policy.
With the right Google search term you can find policy on just about anything. The above are just some examples that are most commonly referenced that you can reference too.