Like us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Instagram ACS Podcasts Contact details Email us

Influencing Local Planning

The Planning for Diverse Local Centres Guide has been produced by ACS to help local businesses, communities and councils understand how town planning can be used to help support and achieve diverse and healthy local centres, which are at the hearts of their communities.

The guide sets out practical guidance on how and when to get involved with shaping and influencing the planning policies and decisions which affect local centres, now and in the future. The document also assists understanding on how the range of ‘planning tools’ available can be used to positively support town centres.

The guide focuses on the development plan process of the English planning system, which by law is the starting point for all planning application decisions made by local councils. The Government expects planning applications which are in accordance with the development plan to be granted planning permission. To ensure the right town centre related development, in the right locations and at the right time is granted planning permission, it is vitally important for all development plans to contain strong centre planning policies which are tailored to individual centres and local circumstances and needs.

Download 'Planning for Diverse Local Centres Guide'

Download 'Planning for Diverse Local Centres (further information booklet)'


Building a Campaign Against a New Development

The prospect of a supermarket opening up at the end of your street is enough to give any retailer sleepless nights. In the first part of our planning guide, we explained the rules behind supermarket applications, the Town Centre First regulations that promote high street sustainability and a breakdown of who makes the decisions. Now is the time to take action. This guide details the steps you need to take to fight a supermarket application from every angle.

Step One – Get the Facts 

Hearsay in a town or village surrounding an application can be wildly inaccurate. Get reliable information about the current stage of the plans, the name of the developer/company and the name of the council officer responsible. It is also worth researching the history of development in the community and the nature of the proposal so that you can see what kind of precedent there is for approvals or rejections of applications like the one you’re facing.

Step Two – Who’s with Me? 

When it comes to applications, the supermarkets will do everything they can to drum up support from the local community. One retail voice opposing the development is not going to be significant enough to be heard, so get organized and form a group with other traders, get the residents association involved, the parish council and even local journalists. A local revolt against a multinational corporation is always a great story for a local paper to run.

Step Three – Swot Up 

The old cliché “Knowledge is power” absolutely applies in this case. Find out everything you can about trade in the area, such as how many shops there are in the community, what they sell and how many people they employ. You could even take it a step further and carry out a footfall survey. The key to research about the community is to look for genuine ways in which trade would be damaged by the development. You should also look to see if there are any less damaging alternatives to the supermarket being proposed.

Step Four – Prepare your Case 

If you can afford to employ an expert advocate, then do so – there’s no substitute for the expertise of a legal professional. However, if you cannot afford representation, work out the grounds for your objection to the development based on the planning rules that are already in place. Make sure you read the developers proposal very carefully and take it to pieces to look for anything untoward or inconsistent. Finally, try and get your objection in on time but submit it even if the deadline is passed – the chances are that it will still be looked at.

Step Five – Make your Voice Heard 

This is the stage at which you should launch your campaign through as many different streams as possible. As mentioned earlier, talk to the media and get your story in the local paper. Launch petitions, call public meetings, attend the public meetings of the developers and get writing! Write letters to all of your councilors, your ward member, Planning committee members and parish councilors, and write to your MP. Getting your local MP in store for a visit to talk about the impact of the development can be an invaluable way to get him or her on your side.

Step Six – Keep Going 

Before it comes to the final decision time, the officer will make a recommendation. This is generally a very strong indication of the outcome of the proposal but it is by no means a cast iron guarantee. Once the council have made their decision, you will have one of two outcomes. If the supermarket has been approved, write a letter to the Local Government Office seeking a ‘call in’ to central Government. If this is rejected, you can always launch an appeal. On the other hand, if the supermarket development has been rejected – make sure you stay alert. There may be an appeal from the supermarket or they may amend their plans and reapply, so keep on the pulse of council activity.