Planning Policy

National, regional and local plans and policies set out the ‘rules’ against which particular developments are assessed.


Bristol Strategic Plan / Planning Policy

The Local Plan sets out the plan for development of Bristol up to 2026.

It sets out where development should take place and what type of development use it should be, eg housing or employment space.

The plan also shows where open space should be protected, where green and transport links are to be allowed for and where retail centres are designated.

It sets out the policies that are used to guide and assess development proposals.

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Neighbourhood Development Plans

Under the Localism Act 2011 groups of members of the community can come together as a Neighbourhood Planning Forum to draw up a Neighbourhood Development Plan which has the same weight as the Local Plan.

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Regional Policy

The West of England Partnership comprises the 4 local authorities. They have adopted joint policies on transport and waste

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National Policy

Development in Bristol also has to be in compliance with national policy enacted through Act of Parliament, and national guidance such as the National Planning Policy Framework

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Planning Application

Permission from the local planning authority LPA  is generally required for new development, changes to existing buildings and change of the use of the building. In conservation areas, works to trees, and demolition also need permission.


Before a Planning Application is made

Developers are encouraged to submit a ‘pre application enquiry’ to the LPA for advice and encouraged to discuss their proposals with the community before they submit their application through Pre Application Community Involvement (Pre App CI) discussions.

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 Planning Applications

Groups and individuals can comment on, support or object to the planning application.

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Planning Appeals

If an application is refused, the developer may appeal against the decision. An inspector will re-examine the proposals and uphold the LPA decision or overturn it and grant permission. Members of the community may not appeal against a planning decision but may present evidence to the inspector who is hearing the appeal.

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 Previous Cases

Previous cases can also help with identifying issues and discussing or making comments on a proposed development, and can set precedents for how future cases are decided.

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Design guidance

Local, Regional and National Design Guidance, Codes and Standards are also taken into account in assessing whether a planning application should be approved or planning policy should be adopted.


 National Standards

Some Codes and Standards are set by national bodies such as the Homes and Communities Agency,the Building Research Establishment or Building for Life.

See links


Local Standards

Bristol City Council has guidance in Supplementary Planning Documents for instance about Tall Buildings, Space Standards Practice guidance, Policy Advice Notes PAN and design guides see links


 Other sources

There are a number of organisations involved in producing guidance for communities to use when they consider development proposals.

This guidance can be useful when responding to a local plan consultation or a proposal for development, or when doing your own plan.

It can cover aspects such as conservation area guidance, standards for design for residential development, sustainable design criteria, and environmental standards.

See Guidance