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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 as amended) and national level (Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 as amended 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.

NPPF, Chapter 15

170 Planning policies and decisions should contribute to and enhance the natural and local environment by:

a) protecting and enhancing valued landscapes, sites of biodiversity or geological value and soils (in a manner commensurate with their statutory status or identified quality in the development plan);

b) recognising the intrinsic character and beauty of the countryside, and the wider benefits from natural capital and ecosystem services – including the economic and other benefits of the best and most versatile agricultural land, and of trees and woodland;

d) minimising impacts on and providing net gains for biodiversity, including by establishing coherent ecological networks that are more resilient to current and future pressures;

174 To protect and enhance biodiversity and geodiversity, plans should:

a) Identify, map and safeguard components of local wildlife-rich habitats and wider 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 national and local partnerships for habitat management, enhancement, restoration or creation; and

b) promote the conservation, restoration and enhancement of priority habitats, ecological networks and the protection and recovery of priority species; and identify and pursue opportunities for securing measurable net gains for biodiversity.

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.

More resources related to biodiversity and the planning process can be found here.


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 35 local planning authorities in Greater London, including 32 boroughs, the City of London and the two Mayoral Development Corporations (London Legacy Development Corporation and Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation).  The local planning 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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