The government has been undertaking its plan to reform England’s planning system, mainly through its proposed Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill.

Despite limited powers, local (parish and town) councils are vital in providing local perspectives on planning decisions. Many councils have also created their own neighbourhood plans, giving them a stronger voice within the planning system.

NALC has continuously highlighted the crucial work councils do on planning and continues to push them to have greater power and control over planning issues in their area.


Planning is the key to functioning towns, cities and rural areas. It ensures that the right development happens at the right time in the right place. The planning system ensures that new developments benefit local communities while identifying which areas must be protected or enhanced.

Local planning authorities and communities primarily administer the planning system. District and county councils are responsible for most planning matters, but local councils play a vital role in commenting on planning applications that affect their area. Hyper-local authorities represent residents’ and communities’ views on planning applications.


The planning case studies publication highlights examples of how local councils have best used the planning system to help their communities. These are examples of best practices and demonstrate actions to tackle planning issues locally.

The publication is divided into several topics; appealing relevant planning decisions, creating effective planning committees, delivering greener planning outcomes, informing the draft local plan, informing planning strategies, influencing development design, neighbourhood planning, spending of community benefit monies and supporting the development of affordable and social housing.

Read planning case studies publication


Local councils do not have the power to take planning decisions themselves. However, over recent years, local councils’ planning-related powers have expanded mainly through the introduction of neighbourhood plans. The table below lists the planning powers local councils currently hold:


  • Planning positions — NALC's current planning positions
  • Plain English — The government's guide to the planning system.
  • Planning Futures —A think-tank developing new ideas for planning in the UK. 
  • Better Planning Coalition — A coalition of 34 organisations from various backgrounds working to design a planning system fit for climate, nature and people. 
  • CPRE — A countryside charity promoting rural issues and advocating for sustainable, healthy countryside communities.
  • National Planning Policy Framework — The NPPF sets out the government’s planning policies for England and how they should be applied.
  • Planning Advisory Service — Part of the Local Government Association, they cover planning basics and help councils understand and respond to the policy around the planning reform agenda.
  • Locality — A national membership network supporting local community organisations.
  • My Community — A website full of resources for those passionate about their communities. Check out their Neighbourhood Planning toolkit for planning-specific resources.
  • Right to Build Taskforce — Provides advice and information to local authorities, their partners, and stakeholders to support the delivery of custom and self-build homes.
  • Society of Local Council Clerks — A dedicated webpage on planning for clerks.

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