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Planning Call-in Direction and Circular

Volume 490: debated on Monday 30 March 2009

I am today publishing the Town and Country Planning (Consultation) (England) Direction 2009, appended to Circular 02/09. Copies have been placed in the Library of the House.

This direction, which comes into force on 20 April 2009, will require local planning authorities in England to consult the Secretary of State before granting planning permission for certain types of development for which they are minded to grant permission. It replaces all such existing directions, which are cancelled; and makes changes to the terms of some of them in the light of the consultation exercise undertaken during 2008 as explained in the accompanying Government response.

In line with the commitment given in the “Planning” White Paper in 2007, the changes will streamline the planning policy framework and give local planning authorities greater freedom in deciding their own planning applications. The changes also accord with the Killian Pretty recommendation to make the policy framework simpler and more user-friendly.

The new direction introduces a new requirement for local planning authorities to refer applications in circumstances where English Heritage are sustaining an objection on the grounds that a proposed development could have an adverse impact on the outstanding universal value, integrity, authenticity and significance of a world heritage site or its setting.

Additionally, the shopping direction is cancelled without replacement, as are the three elements of the current departures direction relating to housing; land belonging to the local planning authority; and “any other development which would—significantly prejudice the implementation of the development plan’s policies and proposals”. The current requirement to refer departures from the development plan which relate to proposals for more than 5,000 sq m of gross retail, leisure, office or mixed commercial floor space is extended to apply additionally to proposals for increases of existing floor space of over 2,500 sq m, where the total would then exceed 5,000 sq m. However, it will only apply to proposals on sites in edge or out of centre locations.

This new direction will not affect the Secretary of State’s power under section 77 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 to direct that any particular planning application should be called in for her own determination irrespective of whether it falls within the terms of this direction. It will still be open to anyone to request that any application be considered for “call in”.

The direction, the accompanying impact assessment and the Government’s response to the consultation paper are available on the CLG website at:

At the same time, Communities and Local Government is cancelling a number of other planning circulars and other guidance documents which have become obsolete but have never been formally withdrawn. The details of the cancelled documents are available on the CLG website.