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Councillor workbook: planning

This workbook will help councillors to understand how the planning system in England works.

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To some councillors planning is exciting and visionary, it is about improving the environment, making places and communities work, a way of securing tangible improvements and investments, of shaping the future, and a mechanism for getting involved in decisions on things that matter to people. To others, it is bureaucratic, confrontational, stifles creativity, and pits neighbours against each other. Some residents fear it, don’t trust it, and think it fails them. Some businesses see it as stifling innovation and enterprise.

Whatever your view of the value of planning it is a council activity that as a councillor you should take seriously. The Local Plan, planning proposals and decisions are all things that the public are interested in, although not all of the time. If you think about how many more members of the public turn up for a planning committee than a full council meeting, you can tell what sparks interest and strong views.