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Section 5. Marine and Land Use Planning

This section reviews marine and land use plans, both statutory and non-statutory and their relevance to coastal activities and development. Plans are important as they set the framework in which decisions will be made on whether or not to permit development. In particular for more complex and large scale developments, it is important to be aware of the policies within these plans for the site; adhering to these policies will ensure that the granting of permission is more likely.

Marine planning and licensing should not be considered as separate entities. The marine planning system will set the regulatory framework within which individual licence decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis. This is similar to the process in the terrestrial planning system, with local plans setting the framework for planning permission decisions. The government has produced a plain English guide that explains the planning system.

In general, land use plan boundaries coincide with the local authority's administrative boundary. Coastal local authorities normally have administrative control and jurisdiction over areas down to the low water mark. There are however exceptions to this general rule, and you should check with your local planning authority to see if you need their permission for development at sites below the mean low water mark. Marine planning relates to planning decisions for the coast, estuaries and tidal waters (which sometimes extend a long distance inland), as well as developments that impact on these areas, such as infrastructure. Specifically it applies up to the mean high water springs mark. This means that the intertidal zone is covered by both the land and marine planning systems.


Marine Plans

The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) has delegated responsibility for preparing marine plans for the English inshore and offshore waters.  Marine planning sets the direction for decision making at a local level. It will:

The MMO has a Marine Information System that displays the appropriate marine policy documents for all of England’s marine plan areas online. It is aimed at interested parties seeking to understand marine plans, particularly in the context of proposals. This resource is also designed to provide support to public authorities in their use of marine plans in decision making.

The Solent and the Isle of Wight lay within the South Marine Plan area


Land Use Plans

In March 2012, the Government published the National Planning Policy Framework. This provides national planning policies for England covering the economic, social and environmental aspects of development. The policies in it must be taken into account by Local Planning Authorities (LPA) in preparing their Local Plans and neighbourhood plans and it is a ‘material consideration’ in deciding planning applications. Local Plans are the key documents through which LPAs set out a vision and framework for the future development of the area.

You should view the appropriate policies in local planning documents before submitting a planning application, as the LPA will judge the application against their policy criteria. You should also see if there are Supplementary Planning Documents for your location. These provide further details, guidance and principles for development. These Supplementary Plans are material considerations when processing planning applications and development proposals. This means that they have to be considered when making a planning decision.  Development documents are available online (see links below) or from the LPA planning office.

There is a separate planning policy framework and legislation for nationally significant infrastructure projects such as wind farms and ports.

Local Plan Links in the Solent

Permitted Development Rights

Some types of development may already be permitted nationally, and for these there is no need to apply for planning permission locally. Permitted development rights are, however, typically subject to conditions and limitations that control development impacts. These conditions and limitations must be met in bringing forward any development in order for it to be lawful. If development proposed does not meet with the conditions and limitations of permitted development then it is necessary to apply to the local planning authority for planning permission.


Shoreline Management Plans

A Shoreline Management Plan (SMP) is a non-statutory policy document for flood and coastal erosion risk management planning. It provides a large-scale assessment of the risks associated with coastal processes, shoreline evolution, coastal flooding and erosion and aims to reduce these risks to people and the developed, historic and natural environments. SMPs include an action plan that prioritises what work is needed to manage coastal processes into the future, and where it will happen. This in turn forms the basis for deciding and putting in place specific flood and erosion risk management schemes, coastal erosion monitoring and further research on how best to adapt to coastal change. For each section of the coast a SMP shows whether the Defra policy of management intent is to 'hold the defence line', 'managed realignment', 'no active intervention' or advance the defence line'. It is important to note that SMP policies do not mean that public funding is secured or guaranteed. Private individuals and organisations have certain permissive development rights to protect their own property and to continue to maintain existing defences, irrespective of the SMP policy of management intent; however, landowners are encouraged to contact their local planning authority before undertaking any works. The planning process should recognise that the coast is a dynamic place requiring adaptive solutions for uses and development. Although non-statutory, SMPs are a material consideration that local planning authorities refer to when forming planning decisions.

Plans relevant to the Solent


Additional Plans

The Solent's coastline is covered by numerous other plans and strategies that reflect its special characteristics, these include:

For the developer these documents can be a source of valuable information about the special characteristics of a site and what consenting authorities will consider when deciding whether or not to approve plans. They help set the context for what may be permitted in a certain area.


Sustainability Appraisal (SA)

Sustainability appraisals (SA) aim to encourage sustainable development through the integration of social, environmental and economic considerations into plan preparation. The SA process incorporates the requirements of the EU Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) Directive 2001/42/EC. Sustainability appraisals developed into an integral part of spatial planning, becoming a statutory requirement for Regional Spatial Strategies (RSSs) and Local Development Documents (LDDs) under the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 (PCPA).

Examples of SA in the Solent


Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA)

A Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) is intended to increase the consideration of environmental issues during decision making related to strategic documents such as plans, programmes and strategies. The SEA identifies the significant environmental effects that are likely to result from the implementation of the plan or alternative approaches to the plan. The findings of the assessment are presented in an environmental report that is consulted upon, with the public, alongside a draft of the plan. Issues raised in the environmental report and in responses to the consultation must be considered by the plan-maker before the plan is formally adopted.

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