Please Note: This website is out of date. The Steward Community Woodland sustainable living project ended in 2018 for legal and planning permission reasons. The contents have been left here as a historical archive.

About the planning system

The Town and Country Planning Act 1990 defines ‘development’ as the carrying out of building, engineering, mining or other operations in, on, over or under land, or the making of any material change in the use of any buildings or other land. It is therefore seen as 'development' when people live on land which is not legally recognised as being for residential use, regardless of whether they build anything.

Most people submit an application or at least seek a planning officer’s advice prior to starting development. However it is not an offence to carry out development without first obtaining permission. If a development is subsequently considered unacceptable The Town and Country Planning Act gives the authorities the power to take enforcement action.

In our area the authority responsible for controlling development is the Dartmoor National Park Authority. They decide whether planning permission is needed and attempt to protect the landscape while ensuring that the essential needs of local communities are met.

The framework for planning policy consists of several layers. The basic principles are set by central government and state laws. Next the County Structure Plan provides broad policies for the region. Finally the National Park Local Plan interprets the policies, adds detail and gives additional local planning guidance.

Planning policy currently dictates that outside existing settlements, planning permission for new dwellings should only be granted when essential in order to meet a proven agricultural or forestry need. This doesn't seem to have prevented property developers from erecting new houses (for commuters) on green belt land elsewhere in the country, but it may make life difficult for us.

We are certain that our project will make a positive contribution to the character and appearance of the National Park while benefitting local people, wildlife and the environment. We believe that through negotiation and working in partnership with the Authority, we can produce the most appropriate application and eventually obtain planning permission.

The Dartmoor National Park Authority refers to itself as having a strong tradition of pioneering conservation management measures within inhabited landscapes which provide models for sustainable development. Guidance issued by the Countryside Agency is that National Parks should adopt sustainability as an underlying principle when considering planning issues and promote opportunities for the development of innovative conservation and management techniques. So...

Our planning situation

Last updated: 2009-04-22

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