The Planning System

The purpose of the planning system is to maintain a consistent approach to development. This is done through a series of local and national policies.

Planning involves making decisions about the future of our cities, towns and countryside. This is vital to balance our desire to develop the areas where we live and work with ensuring the surrounding environment isn't negatively affected. It includes considering the sustainable needs of future communities.

The planning system regulates the development and use of land in the public interest. It seeks to balance the need for new homes, factories, schools and other facilities with our need to protect and improve the environment.

The system is not designed to protect the interests of one person or group over others. Within the framework of legislation approved by Parliament, people have a reasonable degree of freedom to alter their property.

Controls safeguard the character and amenity of local areas for the benefit of the public as a whole. Planning permission should normally be granted, unless it is contrary to the development plan or the proposal causes demonstrable harm to interests of acknowledged planning importance.

The Lewes District Development Plan

The Development Plan for Lewes District currently consists of a number of the policies from the Local Plan (2003) that are considered to be in conformity with the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).  In terms of which policies these are, see:

The District Council has prepared and adopted a new Local Plan.  This Local Plan will be in two parts.  Part 1 of the Local Plan (also known as the Joint Core Strategy) has been prepared in partnership with the South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA) and sets out the strategic level planning policies for the district.  The Joint Core Strategy has been adopted by both the District Council and SDNPA and now forms part of the development plan for the district, see Core Strategy. The JCS carries forward a number of ‘saved’ policies from the 2003 Lewes District Local Plan which will be reviewed through Local Plan Part 2.  Part 2 is in the early stages of preparation. See Site Allocations and Development Management Policies DPD for further information.

Also forming part of the Development Plan for the district are any neighbourhood plans that have been ‘made’ (adopted).  To see which plans have been ‘made’, as well as the stage emerging neighbourhood plans have reached, see Neighbourhood Planning

The development plan sets out the rules for consideration of individual planning applications, what we plan to do with land in the district, details what types of development will and will not be permitted, and how we will control development.  This provides the basis for rational and consistent planning decisions and guides most of our day-to-day decisions. It also allocates land for various types of new development.

Generally, applications for planning permission should be determined in accordance with the development plan, unless material considerations indicate otherwise. Applications which do not accord with the plan should not be allowed unless material considerations justify granting a permission.

Planning Authorities

The planning system involves a range of organisations who each have a level of responsibility of development in a given area.  A hierarchical system operates amongst the planning system. The Secretary of State sets national planning policies and guidance. In Lewes District the District Council and National Park Authority prepare Local Plans. Town and Parish Councils have an opportunity to prepare their own Neighbourhood Plans and have a consultee role when it comes to the preparation of Local Plans and the consideration of planning applications in their area.

The Secretary of State

Considerable power rests with the Secretary of State. Their key functions are to participate in preparation of European planning policy directives, prepare and publish national planning policy and keep it under review and put new planning legislation before Parliament.

Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government

East Sussex County Council

East Sussex County Council prepare plans for minerals and waste development and handle all planning applications related to them. They handle planning applications for their own operational development of schools, roads, fire stations, libraries and other services. We are a consultee during this process.

East Sussex County Council - Planning

Lewes District Council

We focus on the local planning level, applying relevant national policies to Lewes District.

We also provide a detailed framework for the consideration of planning applications. This gives local businesses, public services and the general public with a basis for long term planning. We bring planning issues before the public and give them the opportunity to shape planning policy.

The majority of planning applications are determined by us as the Local Planning Authority. These can include house extensions up to major commercial and industrial developments. 

Our Code is incorporated in the Council's Constitution, for Councillors and Officers involved in operating the planning system. This sets out the arrangements for probity and propriety in handling planning matters and the:

South Downs National Park Authority

On 1 April 2011, The South Downs National Park Authority became the planning authority for part of the district. We have delegated powers to determine applications on their behalf.  The Park Authority may call-in some applications and make the final decision in some instances.

South Downs National Park Authority

Town and Parish Councils

Town and Parish Councils are consultees, indicating views to the District and County Councils, rather than making planning decisions themselves. There is a statutory right for Town and Parish Councils to be informed by local planning authorities of planning applications in their area, so they can comment on the proposal.

Town and Parish Councils are consultees on draft planning policies affecting their areas, and many of them are active in local conservation and enhancement works.

Town and Parish Councils

Planning Inspectorate

The Planning Inspectorate determine most planning appeals and make recommendations on others. They also run inquiries and examinations on Development Plans, Compulsory Purchase Orders and Footpath Diversions.

Planning Inspectorate

Building Regulations

Building Regulations approval is a separate matter from obtaining planning permission for your work. This applies to building work in England & Wales and set standards for the design and construction of buildings to ensure the safety and health for people in or around those buildings.

They also include requirements to ensure that fuel and power is conserved and facilities are provided for people, including those with disabilities, to access and move around inside buildings. 

Further Information

Useful information on how the planning system operates, what the up to date position is with regards to national policy and guidance, can be found at;

Planning Portal:
Planning Advisory Service: