THE NEW SYSTEM
The 2004 Act puts regional planning policy on a statutory footing. Previously the Government had adopted Regional Planning Guidance having considered a draft produced by an informal grouping of local authorities and other bodies in the particular region. This policy was no more than a material consideration. Part I of the 2004 Act provides for the current guidance to be converted into the Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS) for the region by ministerial order.1-2
Revisions of the RSS will be prepared by recognised Regional Planning Bodies but the final decision will remain with the Secretary of State. London continues with a Spatial Development Strategy (known as ‘the London Plan’) prepared by the Mayor of London.3
Local planning policies have been contained in structure plans, minerals and waste local plans produced by county councils, local plans produced by district councils and unitary development plans, encompassing all four elements, produced by most unitary authorities. These documents would be the development plan for the area.4 The s. 54A presumption that planning decisions would be taken in accordance with the development plan unless material consideration indicated otherwise applied to those documents. Regional Planning Guidance and the Spatial Development Strategy would merely be other material considerations.