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.

Local Plan

The Lewes District Local Plan was adopted in March 2003 and sets out the current planning strategy for the District. It is under review and will ultimately be replaced by the Local Development Framework.

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. Regional planning is carried out by the South East Regional Assembly, and the Lewes District Council prepare local planning policies. Town and Parish Councils have a consultee role.

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 & Local Government

East Sussex County Council

East Sussex County Council's planning work focuses at the strategic level.  Under old planning legislation, this concentrated on preparing a Structure Plan and keeping it up to-date. It sets out the strategic policy framework covering scale and pattern of land use for development across East Sussex, or where particular developments are of more than local importance. It provides a guiding framework for the preparation of more detailed local plans by the five district councils in East Sussex.

The County Council prepare plans for minerals and waste development and to 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

Lewes District Council

We focus on the local planning level, applying relevant national and regional 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.

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.

Lewes District Council and the Lewes District Association of Local and Parish Councils have an agreed code of practice with a number of protocols concerning liaison over planning matters.

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. 

Planning Handbook & Glossary

The planning handbook describes the purpose of the planning system and the role of the main players in it, together with the main elements within the system. The handbook is only a basic introduction to give you an overview. The most recent version is available to download, along with a glossary to explain the terminology used.