BNG becomes mandatory, planning fees increase, revised NPPF and more...

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26 January 2024

Planning Advisory Service

Happy New's allowed as this is the first bulletin of 2024.

January is busy at the PAS. We are touring the country again, seeking views and sharing information on the Planning Skills Delivery Fund and Nature Recovery toolkit. We have more opportunities for design training and pathfinders, and we are all set to help you with BNG following the confirmation of it becoming mandatory on 12 Feb for major developments.

Check out our website for more useful planning resources.

Anna Rose
Head of PAS

Biodiversity Net Gain Update

Government confirmed last week that Biodiversity Net Gain is set to become a mandatory requirement for major development from Monday 12 February and for small sites from Tuesday 2 April. See our website for more information on BNG for local authorities and interested officers can join our BNG practitioner network, which now has over 850 members.

Local Plans Update: Michael Gove’s December 2023 Written Ministerial Statement and  plan making timetables.

In his Written Ministerial Statement on 19 December 2023, Secretary of State Michael Gove directed seven Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) to publish a plan timetable within 12 weeks. He also said that he expected all local planning authorities to make sure that they have an up-to-date plan timetable (i.e. Local Development Scheme) in place within the same timeframe and to provide a copy to his department, using the following email address: Many councils have been in touch with us to ask what this means for them, so we have set out here what we think this means in practice for LPAs.

Planning fees increase - remember the new 16 week guarantee will apply

You will recall we had the welcome news of planning application fees increasing in December. Don’t forget the implications of the Planning Guarantee reducing from 26 weeks to 16 weeks. It means that fees are returnable on planning applications after 16 weeks if there is no agreed extension of time in place. Be sure to take it into account in handling your post 6 December 23 planning applications.

Local Authority Draft Nature Recovery Toolkit In-Person Roadshow Events March 2024

PAS are holding three regional in-person roadshow events in March for local authority officers to find out more about the draft nature recovery toolkit that we have been developing, the resources that have been developed so far and how to use them. These all day events are taking place in Manchester on 12 March, Birmingham on 14 March and London on 21 March. Numbers at each event will be capped at 25 and will be restricted to one officer per local authority. Find out more and sign up.

Design Code workshops for DM officer – starting in March

We are working with DLUHC and the Design Code Pathfinder authorities to deliver a series of online workshops on design codes specifically aimed at Development Management officers.

The first sessions, on 12 and 26 March, will focus on the role of DM officers in the production of design codes. It will be an opportunity to hear from pathfinder local authorities about how DM officers should be involved in the preparation of design codes, discussing topics such as what DM teams need to be aware of, how they can engage with the code during production, approaches to training for DM officers and testing and applying codes before adoption.

There will be further sessions on using and monitoring design codes later in the year.

NEW Design Training programme announced - April 2024 to March 2025

Urban Design Learning (UDL) are again offering LPAs access to a great series of online training and support sessions around design, design codes and place shaping from April 2024 to March 2025.

The Programme gives LPAs unlimited attendance for officers and councillors to half day sessions covering a wide range of key aspects of placemaking including how to write design codes, as well as access to a catalogue of short recorded video bites, networking and advice. There are two access options for LPAs, either subscribing to the full programme of over 60 events or to a smaller set of over 20 essential sessions.   

If you are interested please email 

Congratulations to all 180 councils awarded the Planning Skills Delivery Fund.

We are holding some online workshops for councils successful in securing PSDF funding for both the backlog and skills element of the fund. We are keen for as many awarded councils to attend the workshop as possible, as the aim is to share your council’s proposals for spending the funding, to share your challenges, how it is working in practice and to discuss more long-term solutions. We will also do our best to answer any questions you have.

Register for a planning skills delivery workshop 

We will also be holding some events later in the year to share lessons learned which will be open to all councils so keep your eyes peeled. 

Pathways to Planning Council applications are open now!

Pathways to Planning offers councils a new and creative way to diversify their planning teams’ talent pipeline. It is intended to build capacity within councils by bringing more graduates into planning teams now and fast-tracking their careers to fill gaps at every level in the future. Councils in England are now encouraged to apply for the programme’s second cohort, which will recruit up to 120 graduates to start work in autumn 2024. Each graduate place comes a bursary of £5,000 per graduate to help fund graduates’ study on an RTPI-accredited Master’s programme, or cover costs associated with a Level 7 apprenticeship. 

If you are a graduate and are interested in applying for the programme, visit the dedicated website for applicants at

Planning in 2024: Planning Update for Councillors - February 2024

We are working with the LGA political group offices delivering dedicated group sessions for councillors to give an update on the planning process in 2024. 

These free to attend hour and a half online sessions are only for local authority councillors. We will go through the most recent changes to the planning system and how local authorities will have to respond in 2024, as well as introducing the work that LGA councillor peers undertake in planning.  

Digitalisation training for service leaders and managers in Planning

The LGA are running a free two-day virtual workshop around the use of digital solutions to improve engagement, streamline processes and save time and money. With recruitment an ongoing challenge, never has it been more important to ensure that planners are making best use of the technologies available to them to focus their time on the things that matter most.

Places are limited to a maximum of 50 delegates in total. Book now to register your space. If you have any questions or need any further information, please email

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