Essex County Council plays a number of different roles in the planning process. It is, for example, the minerals and waste planning authority and the lead local flood authority. National government and lower tier local councils lead on a number of issues where county councils are statutory consultees.
The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) sets out the Government’s planning policies for England and how these are expected to be applied, together with its supporting national guidance. Further information regarding the planning process can be found on the Planning Portal or obtained from the Planning Advisory Service.
County Council’s Planning Role
Essex County Council is responsible for working with a range of partners to influence policy and to address cross-boundary, strategic planning matters within and beyond Essex.
This includes the Essex borough, city and district councils; those across the wider South East, including London (involving Greater London Authority), Thames Gateway Commission area, and East of England. The County Council works with and influences the decisions of local and national government, developers and other interested parties, to meet the challenges and opportunities for economic growth and development across Essex.
This work focuses on a number of distinct geographic areas, working together within identified ‘Housing Market Areas’ and generally aligning with the main transport corridors. Accordingly, the County Council places great importance on focused joint working with groups of authorities within Essex and these groupings may be subject to change over time, as circumstances and needs evolve. These arrangements assist all authorities to plan together effectively and to meet important cross-boundary and Duty to Co-operate requirements.
The County Council is the local planning authority responsible for minerals and waste related development, as well as determining planning applications for land and buildings owned by the Council (such as schools) across Essex.
There are 12 borough, district, or city councils within Essex. Each is a Local Planning Authority and is responsible for producing a Local Plan to shape the way their area will develop over the coming years. Each is also responsible for determining planning applications in their area (but not minerals and waste). Further information can be found on their individual websites:
Local authorities have a statutory duty to engage and work with the County Council in the preparation of their Local Plans. The County Council is keen to understand and support the formulation of Local Plans, development strategies and policies, prepared by local planning authorities. Involvement is necessary because of the County Council’s role as:
- a key partner within Greater Essex promoting economic development, regeneration, infrastructure delivery and new development throughout the County
- the strategic highway and transport authority, including responsibility for the delivery of the Essex Local Transport Plan and as the local highway authority; local education authority; Minerals and Waste Planning Authority; Lead Local Flood Authority; and major provider of a wide range of local government services throughout the county of Essex
- an infrastructure funding partner, that seeks to ensure that the development allocations proposed are realistic and do not place an unnecessary cost burden on the County Council’s Capital Programme
- the County Council seeks opportunities to ensure the viable provision of its services to create sustainable communities, in the right place with the right infrastructure e.g. sustainable transport, schools and co-located community facilities
Several Essex local authorities are working closely with the County Council to bring forward substantial and transformational growth to be delivered through new communities. This work includes a supporting and guiding role from County Council, plus infrastructure planning and delivery; as well as lobbying government to help strengthen the case for assistance and funding to promote delivery of the ambitious new settlements initiative.
Local communities now have powers to prepare Neighbourhood Plans. These are often co-ordinated by parish or town councils. To help with this, the County Council has developed a new reference guide covering its varied service areas. The guide explains who and how to engage with the County Council and the information and support available.