The planning system is required to implement European law
on assessing the impacts of plans on the environment and
people. In the UK this process is called Sustainability Appraisal.
European and UK law also requires public participation in the
The Town and Country Planning Act 1990 provides the main
legal basis of the English planning system, as amended by the
Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004. Further changes were introduced
by the Localism Act 2011, including the introduction of
National Planning Policy Framework
The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) sets out the
Government’s economic, environmental and social planning
policies for England.
The legal definition of a conservation area is an ‘area of special
architectural or historic interest, the character or appearance
of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance’. Conservation
areas are designated at local level by local planning authorities.
They provide protection against demolition and introduce other
controls, such as reduction of permitted development rights
and protection for trees.
Conservation area designations may be accompanied by
Article 4 Directions. Article 4 Directions provide more rigorous
protection, for example on things like replacement of doors,
windows and shopfronts or on painting of masonry walls.
When considering development proposals affecting
conservation areas, there is a special statutory duty on local
planning authorities: ‘special attention shall be paid to the
desirability of preserving or enhancing the character or
appearance of that area’1
The legal definition of listed buildings is ‘buildings of
special architectural or historic interest’. The statutory list is
administered at national level. Most listed buildings are Grade
II. A small proportion of buildings of particular importance are
listed Grade II* and an even smaller proportion Grade I.
There is a special statutory duty on local planning authorities:
‘In considering whether to grant planning permission for
development which affects a listed building or its setting…
shall have special regard to the desirability of preserving the
building or its setting or of any features of special architectural
or historic interest which it possesses’2
Other useful websites:
- Planning Portal ( does it require planning permission) https://www.planningportal.co.uk/info/200130/commonprojects/17/extensions
- Planning Policy Guidance (national planning policy & guidance) https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/planning-practice-guidance
- Heritage Gateway ( national and local heritage assets) https://www.heritagegateway.org.uk/gateway/
- Magic Database ( natural environment) https://www.magic.defra.gov.uk/