The planning system controls the development and use of land. Planning deals with the use of the physical environment such as buildings, new roads, parks and natural resources. Planning is about towns, cities and countryside.
Planning is sometimes referred to as ‘spatial planning’, which means how we manage, use and change the spaces around us. Planning is all about balancing competing uses of space, such as matching the need for more houses with the need to preserve green space.
Planning takes into account everything from economic needs, social needs and environmental issues to history, public attitudes and the needs of future generations. However, the main issue for planners is to make sure that development is in the ‘public interest’ – this means that what is built benefits as many people as possible.
Planning takes place at different scales. For example, it is used to look at how many airports and motorways are needed, but it also decides whether or not you can build an extension to your house. Although a new airport may be unpopular with local people, the jobs created and the economic benefits it creates for the whole of the United Kingdom may mean that the development is allowed.
Since devolution in 2000, the Welsh Assembly Government has been responsible for the planning system in Wales. The Welsh system is similar to the systems in England and Scotland, but there are differences. This area of the website contains information about the Welsh planning system.
The planning system has a number of different elements. These include national planning policy, Local Development Plans, planning applications and planning appeals. This section of the site gives an overview of these different elements and provides guidance about how you can find out more. Click the links in the left hand menu to visit each section.