Planning System in the UK

Planning System and its complexities

The UK planning system is constantly evolving. It lays a huge emphasis on flexibility which enables the planning system to meet diverse requirements and keep up with the pace of changing nature of problems. Regulating the development and use of land in the public interest has been a major objective of the British planning system. This is where land use planning comes into play. It is a process through which the land uses are determined. Politics, conflict and dispute are at the centre of land use planning. Planning is an important tool that can be used to solve these conflicts.

Cullingworth and Nadin, 2006 define planning as the process by which government resolves disputes about land uses. The increased importance of public participation in the planning processes is to effectively reduce the scope for future conflict.

My argument is that if it is possible to have a planning system which would predict future changes that may have an impact on the system.

Policy making is significant. The clearer it is, the lesser scope it gives for arguing and easier is its application and implementation. Policies keep evolving. Sometimes there are cases where there is no relevant policy to analyse the case against it. This is where policy makers come into picture.
The major difference of the plans in the UK and many other countries is that plans in the UK are not part of the law but made under the law whereas in other countries plans to be issued or enacted as law gives them considerable importance. This feature makes the UK system more complicated than the others. Hence, more room for disputes and the number of courts in the UK have risen.

There are serious difficulties in planning and development sector. The problem that is the concerns of the developers are fully considered, it ends up undermining the planning policies. The policy statements are vague and the high degree of discretion in the system is the most notable feature of the UK planning system. It is responsible for increasing the likelihood of undermining the planning policies. Hence, comprehensive planning is now discredited and planners are focusing on finding ways in which the conflicting interests arising through development could be reconciled.

The Central Government is taking initiatives to secure higher degree of certainty through a plan led system. The idea of rational scientific method has been applied to policy making giving rise to a particular form of planning. The critics have analysed this method with different perspectives and have come up with wide range of other ideas about nature of planning.

Davidoff and Reiner (1962) and Faludi in 1987 argued that the task of planning theorists was to elaborate the notion of planning as a set of procedures to help make the decisions. There are people who reject the simple rational approach and instead focus on the distribution of resources with the help of planning among different interests in society. Community/equity planning emerged as a body as result of criticism which promoted planning as a tool to redress inequalities, benefitting minority and disadvantaged groups (Gans 1991 cited in Cullingworth and Nadin, 2006).

The UK planning system is complex and continues to evolve. The government bodies and the planners have constantly been trying to keep the planning system updated by making necessary changes every now and then since the planning field is vast and complex in nature and has to be protected from stagnancy.


Cullingworth, J. B. and Nadin, V. (2006) Town and country planning in the UK, 14th ed ed., Abingdon: Routledge.

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