Planning is fundamental to the way our cities, towns, villages and countryside look, the way they work and the way they relate to each other.

Good planning can have a huge beneficial effect on the way we live our lives, including on our environmental impacts.

The planning system operates at both a strategic and local site by site level:

  • At a strategic level planning shapes the places where people live and work and the country we live in. It plays a key role in supporting the government’s wider social, environmental and economic objectives; all local authorities (districts and unitary authorities like Medway) have to produce a Local Plan setting out priorities and policies for development in relation to issues such as housing (housing delivery is of particular importance), business, infrastructure (such as transport and waste), community facilities and services, and the environment.
  • On a site by site basis, planning controls or manages development. Each Local Planning Authority is responsible for deciding whether a development should go ahead, based on ensuring that the planning application complies with current planning policies.

The diagram below depicts key stages in the Local Plan making process:

Source: Urban Forum, 2012. The Handy Guide to Planning.

The following diagram outlines the process for dealing with planning applications:

Source: Urban Forum, 2012. The Handy Guide to Planning.

A broad overview of the planning system in England and Wales, The Handy Guide To Planning 2012(from which the above images are extracted), was produced by Urban Forum in association with Planning Aid. It provides a very useful starting point to understanding the many points of engagement across the planning process from planning permission to Community Infrastructure Levy, to neighbourhood planning (local communities now have the opportunity to create their own plans) to local plan consultations.

The Planning Portal also provides a useful online resource on all planning issues.

Public health professionals can work with planning policy officers to ensure that new policies maximise health outcomes and reduce health inequality. They can also engage with development management officers if they wish to be consulted on planning applications.

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) sets out the Government’s planning policies for England and how these are expected to be applied at a local level. The NPPF requires local planning authorities (LPAs) to work with public health leads and health organisations to develop a robust evidence base that takes into account future changes and barriers to improving health and wellbeing.Public health practitioners should assist planners to ensure that their Local Plans conform with the NPPF’s provisions on health and wellbeing.

It should be noted that Clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) and NHS England are statutory consultees in the planning system, which means that they are:

  • prescribed bodies for co-operation on strategic issues under the duty to co-operate;
  • specific consultees in local plan-making;
  • consultees in neighbourhood plan-making; and
  • consultees in preparing local development orders.

This means it is important that CCGs identify someone who will take on the responsibility of working with planning.