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Planning policy



Rosemary Beetle, Penny Frith

The National Planning Policy Framework sets out the Government’s planning policies for England and how it expects these to be applied.  It provides a framework for the development of more localised plans, which must be used to determine applications for planning permission (unless exceptions apply).

Having access to biodiversity data is implicit in the NPPF. Each London borough, as a responsible authority, is required to ensure that the risks of impacts on biodiversity are adequately considered when delivering development. In addition to the requirements of the planning system, there are legislative requirements and duties to meet, at both European (Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010) and national level (Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006). It is essential that the statutory requirements are addressed on all developments to avoid the risk of legal challenge. A robust evidence base is required in order to adequately assess the impacts on biodiversity.

Local planning authorities should:Set out a strategic approach in their Local Plans, planning positively for the creation, protection, enhancement and management of networks of biodiversity and green infrastructure;To minimise impacts on biodiversity and geodiversity, planning policies should:

  • plan for biodiversity at a landscape-scale across local authority boundaries;
  • identify and map components of the local ecological networks, including the hierarchy of international, national and locally designated sites of importance for biodiversity, wildlife corridors and stepping stones that connect them and areas identified by local partnerships for habitat restoration or creation;
  • promote the preservation, restoration and re-creation of priority habitats, ecological networks and the protection and recovery of priority species populations, linked to national and local targets, and identify suitable indicators for monitoring biodiversity in the plan;
  • aim to prevent harm to geological conservation interests; and
  • where Nature Improvement Areas are identified in Local Plans, consider specifying the types of development that may be appropriate in these Areas.

NPPF, Chapter 11, paragraphs 114 & 117

Various guidance documents are also available regarding the consideration of biodiversity and green infrastructure in the UK – some of these documents are listed below and include references to local records centres.


London has a three tier system of government.  The Greater London Authority is made up of the Mayor and the London Assembly.  One of the main roles of the GLA is to take a strategic role in London’s planning.  The Mayor’s London Plan sets out London’s framework for development for local plans to fit to.  The Mayor considers planning proposals of strategic importance.


There are 33 local authorities in Greater London, including 32 boroughs and the City of London.  The local authorities lead on planning within their area.  This involves decision taking on planning applications and the development of:

  • Local Development Frameworks, including provision of locally designated sites – SINCs, LIGs, RIGs, LNRs
  • Local Biodiversity Action Plans
  • Open Space Strategies

GiGL use local planning documents for many purposes, such as in designated sites data validation and verification process. We have collected these, as well as local planning authority contact details and associated websites in one place, please see the Planning Documents page to access these.

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