Pathways to Planning; New unitaries and organisational change workshop; Best practice guidance on DM processes: the Officer Report ; and more...

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26 March 2023

Planning Advisory Service

Thank you, March. You've brought us the spring budget, a flurry of planning consultations, and the familiar business of year-end. We've been up and down the country delivering a variety of events and support. Thank you to all of those who joined us or invited us in.

We've also had our PAS team quarterly away day to business plan for the coming year. This time we visited Faversham, which was lovely and sunny, and we heard from Swale Borough Council officers talking about local place making.

The new year is going to be busy with local and national elections, some new PAS programmes and many continuing areas of work. We look forward to working with you all.

Anna Rose
Head of Planning Advisory Service

Pathways to Planning

Pathways to Planning is a new Planning graduate scheme that offers councils a new and creative way to diversify their talent pipeline. Councils receive a bursary for each graduate place. Councils can select from either of the following bursary options:

  • £5,000 to support graduates undertaking the Chartered Town Planner (Level 7 apprenticeship) qualification. 
  • £10,000 to fund graduates’ course fees on RTPI-accredited Master’s degrees. 

Councils are now welcome to apply for the second cohort, which will see graduates starting work in September 2024. We encourage you to sign by early April 2024 to secure you place. Sign up now

If you want to learn more visit the webpage or attend an upcoming workshop.

New unitaries and organisational change workshop - 10 April

Reminder: Over the last couple of years we have done several planning peer challenges in new unitary councils. We’ve been thinking about what we’ve learned about how the planning service needs to prepare for this huge change, and what opportunities there are for the resulting bigger department.

Come along if you need to, or already are, leading a planning department through big changes. This is an interactive workshop, so prepare to share and discuss your situation and thoughts. Online initially, with the possibility of in-person follow-up if there is demand. Sign up for the event.

Come to a workshop on the Accelerated Planning System consultation– 16 April

We are holding an event for Local Planning Authorities so that they better understand the proposals outlined in the Accelerated Planning System consultation.  Representatives from DLUHC will summarise the key proposals and there will be an opportunity to ask questions. Please sign up to the event that will take place on 16th April 2024 at 2pm

Best practice guidance on DM processes: the Officer Report

We have been working with a number of councils to develop best practice guidance for writing planning application officer reports.  We have looked at both delegated and Planning Committee reports to come up with what we think is the best practice from across the country. 

We are also developing a template report for simple householder reports that you can download.  The template will follow shortly but you can now download the guidance from our website.

Getting Ready for BNG on Small Sites 

We ran an event on 18 March 2024 to help Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) prepare for April 2nd 2024 when non-major developments (with some exceptions) become subject to mandatory Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG). Mandatory BNG has applied to Major developments since mid-February 2024 - our event takes planners through the similarities and the key differences when dealing with BNG on small sites, and how/when to apply the BNG metric. There's also a deeper-dive look at how to achieve BNG on small sites. A recording of the session and the slides can be found here.

NSIP Centre of Excellence Conference - 8 May

The NSIP Centre of Excellence Conference which will take place on Wednesday May 8th, at The Apex, Bury St Edmunds. This free to attend conference is part of Suffolk County Council’s NSIP Centre of Excellence, which is funded by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) Innovation and Capacity Fund and will feature keynote speakers, panel and roundtable discussions and Q&A sessions. Topics include:

  • the latest on NSIP Reform from DLUHC
  • the Great Grid Upgrade 
  • changes to the Electricity Systems Operator.

To find out more please visit NSIP Centre of Excellence Conference - EELGA and book your place.

Introducing Protected Sites Strategies

Protected Sites are areas within our land and sea that have been identified as having our ‘best’ nature and wildlife within them. They are important in their own right and also because they have a vital role in supporting the rest of nature to recover.  The Environment Act 2021 110 Protected Sites Strategies sets out this new tool to help bring the sites in most need of support back into favourable condition. Natural England are developing the process now and have engaged PAS to talk to local authorities. Here's our new page Protected Sites Strategies | Local Government Association with a video with more information.

The Environmental Act is here Are you prepared Winter Learning Programme 2024

All of the recordings from Homes England’s Winter Training Learning Programme 2024 have now been added to their YouTube playlist Local Government Resources.  Representatives from PAS, Natural England and Manchester City Council delivered presentations at a specific session  'The Environmental Act is here Are you prepared Winter Learning Programme 2024 (' which was attended by 672 attendees on the day.  There are lots of other useful recordings you can catch via the link above including the role of urban greening, creating more affordable and custom build homes and delivering S106 site requirements.

Natural England SSSI impact risk zone tool

As part of our recent workshops on nature, we have had our eyes opened to the number of datasets published by Natural England. They have just updated another - a SSSI impact risk zone shapefile. They say "The Impact Risk Zones (IRZs) are a GIS tool developed by Natural England to make a rapid initial assessment of the potential risks posed by development proposals to: SSSIs, SACs, SPAs and Ramsar sites.". You can check it out on their portal.

UDL Design Code Schools - May & Sept - Free places

The Office for Place is funding 50 FREE places at two Design Code Schools in May & September that Urban Design Learning is running in 2024.  The schools will help delegates understand what authority wide, area type and place specific design codes are, and how to create them. Priority for the free places will be giving to LPAs that have not yet received relevant training. To find out more and express an interest please contact:

The Planning Awards 2024: Recognition for UK Planning & Placemaking sectors

The Planning Awards recognise excellence in planning and placemaking. The awards highlighting best practices, fostering collaboration, and inspiring future planning endeavours. Take the opportunity to honour excellence in urban planning, innovation and community development by entering your team, projects and organisation into this year's awards.  if you have any questions please contact

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