Planning Portal

Information Leaflet 7: Hierarchy of Planning Documents
What other matters does the Department take into account when making its decisions on planning applications?

The range of considerations that might be regarded as material to decision-making in planning terms is, in practice, very wide. They vary from application to application and have to be determined in each individual case. There are two main tests in deciding whether a consideration is material and relevant:
  1. it should serve or be related to the purpose of planning - it should therefore relate to the development and use of land; and
  2. it should fairly and reasonably relate to the particular application.
While initially it is for the Department to consider whether a consideration is material, it is ultimately a matter for the courts to decide. As regards the weight to be given to the various considerations, the courts have held that this is a matter for planning judgement.
The policies and guidance contained in the hierarchy of planning documents are clearly matters that need to be considered in making planning decisions, as do other published Government Strategies and policy documents whenever relevant to the particular application in question. Examples of other possible material considerations include:
  • European policy and UK Government policy, where relevant;
  • the environmental impact of the proposal;
  • the design of the proposed development and its relationship to its surroundings;
  • access and provision of infrastructure;
  • the planning history of the site;
  • views of consultees, including the local district council; and
  • public concern or support expressed on relevant planning matters.
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