Planning policy framework

The Government is committed to a plan-led system of reconciling the demand for development and the protection of the environment. Within this system, policies in adopted structure plans and local plans are given statutory backing and, hence, are the primary documents in decisions on planning applications. In formulating these plans, regard must be had to current national and regional planning policies.


The relationship between the respective plans is illustrated in Figure 5. Government has indicated that the emphasis in Local Plans should be on elaborating upon “higher level” policies at the local level. This advice is contained in ‘Making Plans’ published by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. The Rother District Local Plan sets out the policies for land use and development in the District. Matters relating to waste are dealt with in the Waste Local Plan produced jointly by East Sussex County Council and Brighton and Hove City Council. These two authorities have also produced the Minerals Local Plan which sets out the planning policy framework for minerals extraction and processing.

Figure 5 Hierarchy of Planning Policy Documents



Therefore, in addition to Local Plan policies, reference may be made to other statements of planning policy - national, regional and countywide - in order to appreciate the full planning policy framework for managing development and in determining a particular planning application. Current key documents are highlighted below. Details of how to access them are contained in Appendix 1. These will inevitably be updated and amended over time, not least as a consequence of proposed changes to the plan-making system. Any such changes will be material considerations to weigh alongside statutory Local Plan policies.


National planning policies

Major policy initiatives of Government involving legislative changes are set down in White Papers. Of particular significance are those relating to rural and urban areas respectively and transport.


A common theme of all policy and guidance is the concept of sustainability and a shift to more “sustainable” patterns and forms of development. This concept is developed in the Government’s Strategy for Sustainable Development in the UK, entitled ‘A better quality of life’ (1999).


The Government’s view of policies for moving to a more sustainable future, and the role of planning in this, is set out in its “New Communities Plan” entitled Sustainable Communities: Building for the Future.


A regional “action plan” - Sustainable Communities in the South East:Building for the Future - elaborates upon measures needed to tackle key issues of housing supply, the affordability of housing, transport, skills and jobs and renewing communities.


The central message of the Urban White Paper, entitled ‘Our Towns and Cities: The future – Delivering an Urban Renaissance’ (2002) is, as it suggests, the renaissance of cities and towns as places to live. Better quality, generally higher density developments are sought.


The main themes of the Rural White Paper ‘Our countryside: the future - A fair deal for rural England’ (2000) include supporting vital village services, providing affordable housing, delivering local transport solutions, promoting a diverse rural economy and a new direction for farming, preserving what makes the countryside special and improving accessibility to it. 


There are also a number of land use aspects of the Transport White Paper ‘A New Deal for Transport: Better for Everyone’ (1998). These relate to its aims to improve public transport and reduce dependency on the car, improve integration and tackle the problems of congestion and pollution.


The main statements of national planning policy are Planning Policy Guidance Notes (PPGs) and, more recently, Planning Policy Statements (PPSs). These often incorporate quite specific guidelines as well as more general policy directions.


A full list of current Planning Policy Guidance Notes and Planning Policy Statements is set out below. Details of their availability are highlighted in Appendix 1. There are current proposals to review PPGs and to distinguish between national policies and “best practice” guidance. Those PPGs currently being revised by Government are indicated by an * in the list below, although all will be reviewed in due course.

PPS1: Delivering Sustainable Development
PPG13: Transport
PPG2: Green belts
PPG14: Development on unstable land
PPG3: Housing*
PPG15: Planning and the historic environment*
PPG4: Industrial, commercial development and small firms
PPG16: Archaeology and planning*
PPG5: Simplified planning zones
PPG17: Planning for open space, sport and recreation
PPS6: Planning for Town Centres
PPG18: Enforcing planning control
PPS7: Sustainable Development in Rural Areas
PPG19 Outdoor advertisement control
PPG8: Telecommunications
PPG20: Coastal planning
PPS9: Biodiversity and Geological Conservation
PPG21: Tourism
PPS10: Planning for Sustainable Waste Management
PPS22: Renewable Energy
PPS11: Regional Spatial Strategies
PPS23: Planning and Pollution Control
PPS12: Local Development Frameworks
PPG24: Planning and noise
 PPG25: Development and flood risk*

Some of the most salient policy themes in PPGs and PPSs are:

  • meeting the nation’s needs for new homes and a prosperous economy while respecting environmental objectives
  • using already developed land most efficiently, drawing on urban capacity studies, with higher densities of housing than has been the norm
  • providing a broader mix of housing to meet all needs
  • shaping new development patterns in a way that minimises the need to travel, especially by the car
  • providing for business, taking account of the need to revitalise economies
  • conserving the important cultural heritage and natural resources
  • a compatibility between land use and transport strategies.
  • the promotion of good design that reinforces local character

Regional planning guidance

Overall principles and the broad spatial framework for development in the South East region are contained in ‘Regional Planning Guidance for the South East’ (RPG9). This can be accessed on the website of the South East Regional Assembly (SEERA), details of which are in Appendix 1.


This includes targets for housing development in each County up to 2006, and which the Structure Plan has apportioned between Districts. It identifies ‘Priority Areas for Economic Regeneration’ (PAERs), one of which covers Hastings and Bexhill, as noted earlier. In these areas, particular attention should be given to actively supporting economic regeneration and renewal, including inward investment. For this area, it recognises difficulties caused by the poor inter-urban road and rail routes. RPG9 also notes that all of Rother outside of Bexhill is a Rural Priority Area designated by the predecessor of the Countryside Agency. This provides a programme of measures designed to deliver economic and social regeneration.


The preparation of the Regional Spatial Strategy, ‘The South East Plan’, which will look ahead to 2026, is underway.


The Regional Assembly has also published several supporting strategies, and at varying stages of preparation (see Appendix 1 for their availability). These are:

  • Strategy for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy finalised
  • Regional Spatial Planning Strategy for Tourism finalised
  • Regional Waste Management Strategy draft
  • Regional Transport Strategy finalised
  • Regional Minerals Strategy (draft)

The Structure Plan

The role of the Structure Plan is to set out strategic planning policies for the whole of East Sussex, together with Brighton and Hove. The current Structure Plan covers the period up to 2011.


Local Plans produced by each of the constituent District/Borough Councils in the County must conform generally with the Structure Plan. This applies to the Rother District Local Plan, as well as to the separate Local Plans for Waste and for Minerals produced by the County Council.


It is the Structure Plan that determines the number of dwellings and amount of business floorspace to be built in each District. Large-scale development is promoted at north Bexhill, while there are criteria-based policies for development in selected other towns and villages. There are specific policies for Bexhill, Battle, Rye and Rye Harbour and for particular types of development and locations.


The Structure Plan can be viewed on the East Sussex County Council’s website and inspected at the Council’s offices. Specific policies that are referred to in this Plan are reproduced in Appendix 2 and discussed further in relation to particular subjects and settlements in subsequent sections.

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