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The contents of this website are under review following the formation of a new HM Government. Current information may be found at www.gonetwork.gos.gov.uk.

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Planning: the National Picture

The planning system plays an important role in our lives. Effective land use is vital for the well being of the country. Planning is about delivering what people want: jobs, homes, lively city centres, better transport, and sensitive care for our historic buildings and the countryside.

Under legislation that includes the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, and the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004, Government Offices (GOs) carry out many planning duties on behalf of Communities and Local Government.


Planning provides the means to resolve the many competing demands for land and development. It protects the environment in our towns, cities and the countryside. It helps to make sure that planners look after the interests of not just today’s needs but also of future generations.


Applications for planning permission are made to local authorities, who are responsible for making the vast majority of planning decisions. Authorities also have a duty to prepare a development plan for their area, which gives developers and local people a clear idea of what will be an acceptable development in particular parts of their area.


Specific planning functions of the GOs include:

  • in the case of the Government Office for London, liaising with the Greater London Authority on the preparation of the London Plan, the ‘Regional Spatial Strategy’ for London, and deciding whether to direct whether any changes need to be made
  • scrutinising draft development plans prepared by local authorities to ensure they have taken account of national and regional policy and guidance
  • supporting local authorities in the transition to and preparation of their Local Development Frameworks
  • looking at individual planning applications which may raise issues that have more than just local importance, and advise ministers whether they need to intervene (that is, ‘call in’ the application for public inquiry and the Secretary of State’s own decision)
  • monitoring local authority development control performance, spreading good practice and engaging Planning Advisory Service to support local authorities where necessary

See also on our website

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 List item 1  Yorkshire and The Humber
 List item 2  North West
 List item 3  South East
 List item 4  North East
 List item 5  West Midlands
 List item 6  South West
 List item 7  East of England
 List item 8  London
 List item 9  East Midlands

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