The Planning Skills Delivery Fund, Local Plan Making Reforms event, Community Land Auctions pilots, and more...

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31 August 2023

Planning Advisory Service

If you have taken some time out over the summer holidays to recharge your batteries you might wonder what you are returning to. The answer, in short, is change. We have put together a summary of the main consultations on planning as we understand them at present, and we could probably add a handful of other relevant and important lines for things that are not consultations but urgent (like the planning skills delivery fund application window, and the fact you need to accept your BNG funding right now if you haven't already). There is just lots going on.

Starting in a few days time we are looking forward to meeting some of you face-to-face when we get around the country exploring the 30 month local plan concept. We're scoping out the day at the moment - trying to design ways of allowing you to contribute your experience and help flesh out some of the timeline. See below for the few tickets remaining but it’s pretty full up, so we might have to restrict councils wanting multiple places. And - we shouldn't need to say this - if you book a place you must turn up! 

Lastly, we are very pleased to be welcoming some new faces to the PAS team soon. Our programme has a slightly expanded remit and there is more for us to do on the infrastructure, design and skills agendas. Busy times for us all.  

Richard Crawley
PAS Programme Manager

So you want to apply for the Planning Skills Delivery Fund?

The Planning Skills Delivery Fund (PSDF) will provide £24 million over two years to local authorities to help with clearing backlogs of planning applications and prepare for the implementation of proposed planning reform. It's part of a wider programme of work designed to address the capability and capacity of planning services. Local planning authorities can apply for funding for up to £100,000, which can be used to hire additional planning officers and other specialist resources. 

We recently held two events to help councils think about whether to apply and if they needed to find time over the Summer to make an application. You can find more, including the presentation used, on our past events page. This PSDF event on 5 September at 10am is for councils who have decided to apply and want to talk through their applications to iron out any last-minute queries.

Local Plan Making Reforms: Consultation event series 2023

Join us for a series of in-person events throughout September, focusing on the Government's published consultation on proposals to make local plans (and minerals and waste plans) simpler, faster to prepare, and more accessible. These follow our consultation launch webinar and are aimed at gathering planning officer’s views and feedback on the proposed reforms in greater detail. Get more details and sign up:

Are you interested in becoming a pilot local authority for Community Land Auctions (CLAs)?

If so, please join us on 12 September at 2pm for an online workshop with the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) where we will hear more about the current consultation proposals on how the CLAs process would operate. At this session we will also invite you to share your views on this part of the plan-making reforms consultation, debate with colleagues from other interested authorities and ask questions. Places are limited and for local authority officers only. 

Biodiversity Net Gain events

PAS is hosting training from Natural England on how to review Biodiversity Metric 4.0 on 14 September at 2pm. You can see the recordings and slides from recent BNG related events, including on conservation covenants.

The National Model Design Code and preparing authority-wide design codes

The National Model Design Code has been around since 2021. We want to hear what is and isn’t working well, and what further guidance might be needed to assist in the preparation of authority-wide design codes. Working with DLUHC, we are holding a series of virtual roundtables for councils in early October that use the NMDC and are preparing design codes, particularly through the design code pathfinders or undertaking the Urban Design London programme.

Office for Place – Masterclasses from the Design Code Pathfinder Programme

In 2022 DLUHC and the Office for Place funded 25 local authorities and neighbourhood planning groups to produce design codes at different spatial scales and using the National Model Design Code. With speakers drawn from the Pathfinder cohort, the Office for Place are holding a series of free events from 21 September until 5 December (various times) which will dive into the detail on some of the important topics identified through the programme, providing delegates with ideas and practical suggestions for developing their own codes.

Local Nature Recovery Strategy FAQs – August 2023

Following on from a series of Local Nature Recovery Strategy webinars for officers a set of most frequently asked questions have been uploaded to the PAS website which include answers prepared by Defra and Natural England. We are looking to add to these in the future and keen to get your views and comments on these questions and answers, so please get in touch with Krista Patrick to provide feedback:

Are you interested in support to help improve infrastructure planning?

We have funding available to continue our support with councils on helping to improve the governance of developer contributions. With proposals to introduce an Infrastructure Levy, including a requirement for councils to prepare Infrastructure Delivery Strategies, the approach to infrastructure planning and decisions on prioritising spend will become even more important. Please email for further information.

Infrastructure Funding Statements - Updated guidance

A gentle reminder that councils have a statutory requirement to publish their Infrastructure Funding Statement for the financial year 2022/23 by 31 December. We have updated our guidance to help you with this and if you need any advice do get in touch at

Do you want to come and join our NSIP network?

Do you have an NSIP in your neck of the woods or might you have one in the future? If so, we would love to hear from you. We are going to be providing a lot more support for LPAs in the coming months to simplify and streamline engagement with NSIP projects. In the tried and tested PAS style we have a regular virtual network meeting to share information, ideas and experience across national and local government, and a Basecamp forum for you to network with each other at your convenience. If you would like to find out if its right for you, please contact and/or 

Update from ombudsman

If you haven't already noticed the local government ombudsman has updated their guidance that sets out what they have learned from investigating public complaints about planning services. It is an excellent and thought-provoking read, and as a minimum should be used as a prompt to explore one of their questions "How many complaints does the council receive about decisions on planning applications, what are the outcomes and how has the council used them to improve its services?"

Planning Committee scheme of delegation

We have created a new webpage that provides guidance for councils who are reviewing their Planning Committee scheme of delegation. The guidance outlines the most common reasons why items are referred to Planning Committee. It sets out the advantages and disadvantages of each approach and the variations adopted by different councils.

From the 'unofficial' PAS blog

The changing governance of water

In his latest post, RedRoseRoy reflects on Defra's Plan for Water and what a new system of Catchment Management Plans could mean for local authorities and planning.

Understanding and avoiding designation

An ever larger number of councils are finding themselves in a position where they have either been contacted by DLUHC because their planning application performance does not meet the minimum standards set by Government or are in danger of not meeting these minimum standards. Pete's blog explains the implications of designation and provides some top tips for avoiding designation based on the support he has provided to councils in the danger zone.

Urban Greening Factor Deep Dive webinar

Natural England has developed an Urban Greening Factor for England, as one of a suite of five Headline Green Infrastructure Standards within the Green Infrastructure Framework – Principles and Standards for England. Find out more as part of a Natural England Deep Dive Webinar on 12 September at 10am which will include case studies from Southampton and London.

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