Spatial planning is a system which guides and controls how an area develops. It sets out where new buildings are allowed to be built and how they are designed. And it defines how an area’s energy infrastructure will change in the future.
So the planning system is central to promoting and enabling more sustainable uses of energy. This might be through allowing the development of a community-owned renewable energy installation, or through requiring that all new buildings meet stringent energy efficiency requirements.
Planning happens in two ways: through statutory planning policy (or non-statutory guidance documents), which gives a framework for guiding future development; and through development control, where policy gets put into practice through the granting or refusal of individual planning applications.
The impact of the Localism Act
As a member of the public, there are different ways in which you can influence the planning system - see Approaches to community-led planning. The Localism Act (2011) granted more power to communities to influence local-level planning. It has enabled residents, alongside their local authorities, to develop ‘neighbourhood plans’, which, once voted in by the community, become statutory planning policy. The Localism Act has also provided communities with greater powers to take control of local buildings, services and other assets, by using the new 'Community Rights'.
These different pages (and downloadable PDFs) aim to demystify what can look like a complex topic to grapple with – but an incredibly important one to understand! While explaining some of the national-level planning activities, our guidance is more focused at local level (and very local level) planning.
CSE is keen to see more community groups, parish councils and neighbourhood forums take advantage of the localism powers to promote, enable and establish low carbon infrastructure in their areas. We hope you find these resources useful in making this ‘low carbon localism’ happen in your community. We’d be delighted to hear how you get on, so please keep in touch - email firstname.lastname@example.org