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Bookmark these town planning resources

Updated: Dec 9, 2023

If you are starting out in town planning, or in a new area of it, here are some essential sources of planning information and some great tools. Bookmark these websites for town planning resources you'll keep coming back to.

This includes text 'bookmark these sites' and includes a webpage of a well know planning related site providing useful resources

This is an obvious one (and it is going to be changing) that you will need to come back to it again and again. The National Planning Policy Framework provides the overall framework for the taking decisions on planning application and for the plan making activities that are central to the planning system in England. Don’t forget to pay attention to the footnotes and glossary to help make sure you have a complete understanding.

If you are unclear about how aspects of the planning process work, National Planning Practice Guidance is a good place to start. After a huge exercise to slim this guidance down, it's longer than ever, but it can be really helpful. The guidance is organised into topics like determining a planning application, plan-making and the Community Infrastructure Levy which makes it easier to navigate. What we really like is that National Planning Practice Guidance contains links to relevant sections of planning law which can be trickier to find via

Part of the Local Government Association, and staffed by a small-ish but excellent team, PAS provides consultancy and peer support, learning events and online resources to help local authorities understand and respond to planning reform. The PAS website is chock full of resources, many of which are linked to in our topic specific ‘explainer’ pages. If you work for a local authority, keep an eye on the PAS events page.

A joint venture between the UK Government (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities) and TerraQuest Solutions, the Planning Portal is a website for submitting planning applications. There is so much on there it can be tough to navigate, so it is worth familiarising yourself with the content, here are some quick links:

Defra’s Magic map application is an interactive mapping system that holds maps and data on the natural environment, such as habitats and species types, designated sites, landscape types, and environmental schemes. It’s not magical as far as we can tell, but it is very useful.

This link is to the Planning Court which is part of the Administrative Court, a specialist court within the King’s Bench Division of the High Court of Justice. It carries out judicial reviews of decisions made by planning authorities, and hears other challenges to planning decisions.

If we are honest, this is a slightly dusty bookmark because we normally cheat and look at the much easier to navigate Town Legal and Landmark Chambers’ Planning Court Case Explorer - Town Legal. Some tips on how to use the Explorer are included in this blog post.

The chief planner for England writes to the chief planning officers of councils from time to time with guidance and updates on various aspects of the planning system. This is a good way to stay in touch with planning issues and you can sign up for an email alert. The newsletter is good for a sense of what’s hot and what’s not at the top.

Quod is an independent consultancy specialising in planning, development economics, social economics and environmental planning, based in London and Leeds. Check out their tools, which include an assessment of whether an EIA is needed and a tall buildings map covering the UK's major cities. We still miss their CIL map.

Listed buildings are identified on this site. The National Heritage List for England (NHLE) is the only official, up to date, register of all nationally protected historic buildings and sites in England - listed buildings, scheduled monuments, protected wrecks, registered parks and gardens, and battlefields. Our team don’t even really do huge amounts of work on listed buildings but we like reading about them.

Have we missed out any really useful planning resources?

Get in touch to let us know if there are other town planning resources and tools we should add to this list. We are also testing out various paid for services at the moment and will be publishing reviews. We only allow limited advertising on Work in Planning and we pride ourselves on being independent and serving up useful content. Because of this, we will tell it like it is. We will be fair and balanced, but if you are after a puff piece we are probably the wrong website for you. If that does not put you off, and you would like to submit software or service or even ideas to us, get in touch - we would love to review it for you.


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