Planning and Pollution

By August 23, 2017 No Comments

We are pleased to inform you that LSx is launching a planning campaign with the TCPA to emphasize and prioritise air quality issues in planning.

The challenge

It is widely known that current trends of urbanisation are having an adverse effect on our environment. Many of the ways we produce energy, heat our homes and power our transport systems rely on fossil fuels, which when burnt, release harmful toxins into the air. Air Pollution is a multi-faceted challenge affected by wide ranging phenomena within city infrastructure systems. With air quality playing such a crucial role in determining the health and wellbeing of both people and the wider eco-systems that support them, it is vital we revise the ways in which we build and maintain our towns and cities. The way we design and manage the spaces we inhabit can encourage sustainable transport, as well as helping to controlling development that creates unreasonable damage to the wider environment.

Strategic planning can play a key role in this process, encouraging sustainable practices which can limit the negative impact that human practices have on air quality. Unfortunately the current planning system does not account fully for pollution, and there are few guidance documents to assist planners to bring the topic to the table. LSx will work with the TCPA over the next year to produce and promote supplementary planning guidance.


What have we done so far?

During a roundtable session we managed to phrase three key objectives to be addressed:

  1. Prior approval to be revoked on AQ basis

Prior approval is one of the paths of planning process, different than the standard permission application. It ‘means that a developer has to seek approval from the local planning authority that specified elements of the development are acceptable1’ then work can proceed without going through the normal planning process. It was brought in as an emergency measure but now it had been done as a permanent option. The statutory requirements relating to prior approval are much less prescriptive than those relating to standard planning applications. We think this leaves a great level of risk, especially in the case of a public health issue such as air quality, and wish to instigate a reform so that it could be revoked on air quality basis.

  1. AQ having parity with other issues in NPPF

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) serves as a brief overview of the specific role and responsibilities of the planning system. It provides a short summary of each level of government and how it helps to mitigate against emissions. In short, the NPPF sets out the national agenda for planning in England, including specific policies relating to air quality. These policies help contribute toward meeting many of the requirements for tackling air pollution as set by the EU. However air quality problem is not a priority in this document. Therefore we think it should be amended so that air pollution has parity with other issues.

  1. Improving planners education

Planners do not learn about public health and air quality, they need lessons about the environmental health. As a result we think that environmental health lecture should be added to their curriculum and are looking to involve the CIEH in this process.


We also prepared a case studies document of different planned developments in which there were some concerns over their impact on air quality. This document can be helpful for the community groups or other significant organisations to understand actions they can take in their own air pollution planning cases.

We hope that this campaign will prioritise air pollution issue in planning policy and will emphasize the crucial role of air quality in determining the health and wellbeing of the life inside the cities. If you want to be involved in this campaign, please write to us.

  Read our Innovation and Pollution