Natural England - Spatial planning

Spatial planning

Spatial planning brings together and integrates policies for the development and use of land with other policies and programmes which influence the nature of places and how they function.

Why is Natural England involved in spatial planning?

Our work helps ensure that the spatial planning system:

  • conserves and enhances the natural environment through the wise use of natural resources;

  • mitigates and adapts to the impacts of climate change;

  • provides the highest levels of protection for England's protected habitats, sites, species and landscapes;

  • is based on robust environmental evidence and a thorough understanding of environmental capacity and the cumulative impacts of development;

  • delivers substantial benefits for the natural environment and people together. This should include enhancement of biodiversity and landscape, opportunities to access and enjoy the natural environment and the provision of multi-functional green infrastructure.

How is Natural England involved in spatial planning?

We are a statutory consultee on environmental assessment processes and many development proposals, including Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects, Neighbourhood Development Orders and Community Right to Build Orders.

We are also a statutory consultee on local plans, strategic environmental assessment, neighbourhood plans, environmental impact assessment and many development proposals. We have particular responsibilities for National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Special Protection Areas, Special Areas of Conservation, Ramsar Sites, National Nature Reserves, Sites of Special Scientific Interest and protected species.

We also offer a Discretionary Advice Service (DAS) at the pre-application and post consent stages of development proposals. This is geared towards cases with the potential for significant impact on protected terrestrial and marine sites, landscapes and species, or which could deliver significant environmental gain, supporting sustainable development.

Our performance in handling land use planning consultations.

Nature After Minerals Programme

Natural England and the RSPB work in partnership in The Nature After Minerals Programmeexternal link, with support from the Mineral Products Association and working with mineral planners and industry to help nature following minerals extraction. More information about the programme: (23kb)pdf document.


See our spatial planning publications under Land use publicationsexternal link.



Accountability for Regulator Impact (ARI) Scheme
Following the Chancellor’s announcements in last year’s Autumn Statement, the Government has announced that from 1 August it will launch this new scheme.

Growth benefits from the natural environment
A groundbreaking toolkit which shows local economic planners how the natural environment can enhance economic growth and help avoid future costs to growth that could arise from the environment, has been launched.

Building a Better Environment: Our role in development and how we can helpexternal link
Advice to local communities jointly prepared by Environment Agency, English Heritage, Forestry Commission and Natural England.