Development Management

[This article was originally published in Planning Magazine, September 2007]

This month I want to talk about development management, what it actually means, its role within the new planning system and how it affects the traditional divisions between policy and DC teams.

Contrary to some opinions, development management is not development control by another name. A new approach has been driven by the implementation of the 2004 Act, not referred to directly or given any clear guidance, but a fundamental and integral part of the spatial planning activity. Development management is the culture change from reactive assessment of others’ proposals to seeking and shaping developments.

Developments will need to be assessed in the way in which they contribute to the outcomes that are needed by the community – expressed in the sustainable community strategy and LDF core strategies. Typical local plans policies that are written to prevent all foreseeable sorts of undesirable development should no longer be necessary. Local policies should guide development towards fitting patterns of local distinctiveness

In this culture change, managers will need to consider the shape and structure of planning services to meet this challenge. Communication between the people who write the policies and those whose job is to facilitate good development is essential. As the spatial planning system evolves, we should look to the profession evolving to value facilitation and communication skills along side skills of spatial awareness, urban design and land use analysis. Professional judgement, will be based on an understanding of the future of a community, instead of the use of the rule book – a new, and somewhat challenging world.
Regulatory planning activity will still exist but this will become a diminishing role restricted to assessing small developments that fall outside permitted development. Would this residual activity be better integrated into other regulatory services?
Recognising the need for more guidance and direction in tackling this challenging role for planners, PAS is running a series of seminars to explore this topical issue from next month.

To find out more about how the services offered by PAS can help, visit


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