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New school site planning guidance published

New planning principles for councils to consider when determining planning applications for school developments with local support have been published ahead of the Royal Assent for the Academies Bill.

This initiative was designed to allow school promoters to be confident about progressing their proposals and for new free schools to be set up quickly in response to demand from local people. Education secretary Michael Gove has already stated that the Government is committed to making it easier to secure sites for new schools.

Local planning authorities and the Planning Inspectorate will be expected to take the statement by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles into account as a material consideration when determining all planning applications for school development.

In determining planning applications, local authorities should:

  • attach very significant weight to the desirability of establishing new schools and to enabling local people to do so
  • adopt a positive and constructive approach towards applications to create new schools, and seek to mitigate any negative impacts of development through the use of planning conditions or planning obligations, as appropriate
  • only refuse planning permission for a new school if the adverse planning impacts on the local area outweigh the desirability of establishing a school in that area. Where a local authority refuses permission on this basis, the Government will ask the Planning Inspectorate to deal swiftly with any appeal that is lodged.

The Government will shortly be consulting on proposed changes to the Use Classes Order to reduce unnecessary regulation and make it easier for buildings currently used for other uses to be converted to schools.

Planning Portal 29.07.2010