peak district landscape

Development Control Practice


This chapter outlines the way in which the National Park Authority makes individual planning control decisions and implements policies. The land use policies and proposals to which this practice is applied are set out in the chapters that follow.


DoE Circular 12/96 sets out Government policy on National Parks arising from the Environment Act 1995. Paragraph 6 states that "The Government regards National Park designation as conferring the highest status of protection as far as landscape and scenic beauty are concerned". The Government's statement of policies 'Fit for the Future' confirms (at Section 6) the importance of careful and sensitive planning by special policies and specific controls. Circular 12/96 replaces the earlier Circular 4/76. Paragraph 47 made Government's views on development control standards in National Parks clear as follows:

"In the face of growing pressures stricter development control policies need to be applied in the National Parks. Such policies are already more stringent in the Parks than in the countryside generally but a further opportunity for strengthening them, where this is thought necessary, will be provided in structure plans ......... and in local plans."

Circular 12/96 acknowledges that Circular 4/76 provides an important contribution to the development of policy.


The National Park Authority starts with the requirement of Section 54A of the Town & Country Planning Act 1990 that Development Plan policies be the primary consideration in making planning decisions. These policies are drawn up so as to take account of legislation and guidance (see paragraphs 1.8 to 1.11). Together with thorough and rigorous development control practices and procedures, they enable consistent consideration of applications received.

This chapter describes:


How planning applications are assessed.


What can be expected if proposals are not compatible with Development Plan policies.


The use of planning conditions and obligations for proposals which are compatible with policies.


Standards expected of Planning Applications.


Advice to applicants.


The use of 'Article 4 Directions' to bring certain matters within the scope of planning control.




Consultation with Neighbouring Authorities.


The referral of certain matters ('Departures') to the Secretary of State for the Environment.


Assessing planning applications


Proposals for development will be assessed against all relevant policies in the Structure Plan and this Local Plan. Other material considerations which will be taken into account where appropriate in determining applications include:


National and Regional Planning Policy Guidance and Government Circulars;


Supplementary Planning Guidance published by the National Park Authority;


the views expressed by those consulted: local councils, statutory consultees and such other authorities and agencies as seem appropriate to the particular case;


the views expressed by neighbours and other third parties including individuals, organisations and interest groups;


the likely effects on nearby residents and users of the area;


the desirability of meeting special needs such as those of disabled people;


current best information on any matters of specific importance such as the conservation of wildlife sites and species, historic gardens and buildings, archaeological or geological sites. (See valued characteristics at paragraph 1.28).


Proposals which are not compatible with Development Plan policies


Where development is not compatible with the Development Plan, either through its individual impact or through potential cumulative impact, planning permission will be refused unless material considerations indicate otherwise. Any appeal arising from refusal will be firmly contested.


The use of conditions and obligations: proposals which are compatible with Development Plan policies


Where a development proposal is compatible with Development Plan policies, it will be permitted provided that other material considerations do not indicate otherwise.


Where it appears that development may be acceptable, negotiations will be held and amendments sought where necessary, to secure high standards that protect and enhance environmental qualities. Conditions will be imposed on any permissions to the extent that they are considered necessary to achieve and maintain these high standards and to secure compatibility with criteria in relevant policies. Any appeals arising from the imposition of conditions will usually be firmly contested by the National Park Authority.


Where proposals seem on balance to be acceptable but cannot be conditionally approved for a legal or technical reason, or where they are only acceptable if certain benefits can be guaranteed, the National Park Authority will invite or consider accepting legal obligations, to allow the development to be approved.


Where other material considerations (relevant matters not covered by policy) indicate that a proposal is unacceptable and amendments cannot be negotiated or conditions imposed to make it acceptable, the development will not be permitted. Reasons will be given, and any appeal will usually be firmly contested.


Standards of planning applications


A high standard of development is easier to achieve if planning applications are of a high standard in terms of the background information and detailed plans provided. This is usually easier to achieve if a skilled agent does the work.


Many applications cannot be determined satisfactorily without additional detailed information. In these cases the National Park Authority will exercise its powers under Regulation 4 of the Town & Country Planning (Applications) Regulations 1988 or, in the case of outline applications, Article 3(2) of the Town and Country Planning (General Development Procedure) Order 1995 to require further details to be submitted before they are registered.


If the applicant fails to provide details and plans that allow proposals to be properly judged and to demonstrate that a high standard of development will be achieved, then applications may be refused when judged against the policies in the Structure Plan and this Local Plan.


Where it appears that proposals are likely to have significant environmental effects and where they fall within one of the categories of development listed in the Schedules to the Town and Country Planning (Assessment of Environmental Effects) Regulations 1988, the National Park Authority will require the submission of an Environmental Statement with the planning application for the development in question.


In discussion with officers of the National Park Authority, applicants are advised to familiarise themselves with policies, relevant sources of information (such as registers of ecologically important sites) and the possible requirement for an Environmental Statement as part of the application.


Advice to applicants


Officers of the National Park Authority will give advice, 'without prejudice', to intending developers on policies and on their application and implementation. The aim will be to avoid abortive work by applicants and by the National Park Authority and to achieve a high standard of development in the National Park through co-operation. However, the first call on resources is to determine planning applications, where the fee has been paid.


Article 4 Directions


Not all activities in the National Park require planning permission. They can nevertheless pose occasional serious threats to the valued characteristics of the area or to the quality of life of its people, or might otherwise be prejudicial to the proper planning of the area.


Where development does not require planning permission but appears to pose a real and specific threat to the valued characteristics or amenity of the area, or would otherwise be prejudicial to the proper planning of the area, the National Park Authority will consider making Directions under Article 4 of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 to bring the development under planning control. Consultations will be carried out where appropriate. Such action can lead to a liability to compensation payable by the National Park Authority, but will be pursued, subject to resources. In most cases, such Directions require the approval of the Secretary of State. For Conservation Areas, however, the Authority can make Directions under Article 4(2) without further approval.




The National Park Authority is determined to enforce planning control when individuals fail to apply for necessary permission, or fail to comply with the terms of a planning permission. Unauthorised development, including development in breach of planning conditions, will be judged by the same criteria as other development proposals. Where the National Park Authority considers that unauthorised development adversely affects the valued characteristics of the area or other interests such as those of nearby residents or users of the area, or is otherwise contrary to Development Plan policy, enforcement action will usually be taken.


Neighbouring Authority consultations


Most of the land adjacent to the National Park is also of protected status (such as Green Belt or Special Landscape Area) or is undesignated countryside, but still protected by the neighbouring planning authorities. Development here can sometimes harm the National Park, or may help relieve pressures on it.


Policies have now been included in most Development Plans for adjacent areas which take account of the need to protect the National Park. Regional Planning Guidance for the East Midlands supports this strategy. The National Park Authority will respond to consultations by neighbouring authorities about development which is close to the National Park boundary. Where appropriate it will encourage those proposals of benefit to National Park objectives, or object to those which might damage the National Park's valued characteristics.


Departure applications


Government provides guidance and direction on dealing with development proposals which if approved and carried out, "would not accord with the provisions of the Development Plan" (Development Plans Direction 1992). These are known as "Departures" from the Plan. Some 'departures' justify notification to the Secretary of State for the Environment, who may then exercise discretionary power to 'call-in' the application for decision, if necessary a Public Local Inquiry may be held. The National Park Authority will notify the Regional Office of the Department of the Environment of major 'departure Applications'" which it wishes to approve.

Chapter 3


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