- Common good land users can struggle to engage with the planning system. They regularly report finding planning processes inaccessible and lacking in transparency.
- Innovative new models meet resistance. Many common good land users pursue unfamiliar models. This can mean proposed developments get unfairly rejected as being non-essential or because projects are seen as unviable.
- Planning does not sufficiently consider the social, economic and environmental value created by common good land use.
- Common good land users often have fewer resources than other groups engaging with the planning system
Land-based social enterprises can create jobs, improve landscapes and natural capital, and help manage land well even in a time of austerity. However, they can only do this if the planning system recognises their needs and helps shape an environment in which they can flourish.
What needs to change:
- Local Planning Authorities need to make the planning process more accessible by:
- Producing clear policies and guidance documents, for example on definitions of sustainable development, and business viability
- Increasing opportunities for free pre-application advice
- Thinking about supporting common good land use when making planning decisions
- National planning policy could do more to recognise and support the value of common good land use models and practitioners. This might include:
- New material considerations focused on social and ecological land use
- Supporting Low Impact Developments
- Giving preferential treatment to not-for-private-profit applicants
- Common good land users must engage more with key policy and practice. This means:
- Writing applications with these policies in mind
- Presenting clear long-term plans and business models
- Contributing to Neighbourhood and Local Plan-making
What we’re doing:
- Better Land-Based Economies: this project follows three food growing groups trying to access land. Successful engagement with planning authorities is a key part of this journey, and we are collecting lessons and evidence on it.
- Woodland Social Enterprises and the Planning System is a piece of research commissioned as part of Making Local Woods Work. We’re exploring how planning impacts these groups and developing guidance.
- Sustain’s planning guidance for food growing projects and for councils.
- The Campaign to Protect Rural England offers help for applications and neighbourhood plans.
- Several other sources are linked to in the ‘Further Reading’ chapter of our planning report
Scroll down to the posts below to read the latest updates on our work in this policy area.
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This report explores the impact of the planning system on UK woodland social enterprises. It summarises the key parts of the planning system in all 4 UK countries, and outlines some of the main challenges that WSEs have with the system. It was commissioned by the Making Local Woods Work programme, and complements nicely with our previous report on Planning for Common Good Land Use, but takes a deep dive into the often complex world of planning and forestry. It consists of three main elements:
- The main report
- An open spreadsheet summarising key reading and resources
- A Guidance Note for WSEs on the planning system
This report outlines how the planning system could support land-based social enterprises to use land for the common good.
Planning should support land-based enterprises to contribute towards sustainable development. These organisations can create jobs, produce the things people need, and improve landscapes and natural capital. Currently, there are not enough ways that the planning system and common good land users in the UK can achieve this. This report is an attempt to show how this can change. [Read the full report here]
Our response to the rural planning review focused on how rural planning policy can help land-based social enterprises deliver high quality, sustainable models of socially and environmentally productive land management. You can download it here.