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Frequently Asked Questions

Strategic Planning - Frequently Asked Questions

Strategic Planning

The guidance below has been drawn from the Planning Advisory Service web page.


  1. What is meant by the term ‘strategic planning’?
  2. Why is strategic planning important?
  3. Where can I find out more?


  1. Q. What is meant by the term ‘strategic planning’?
    A. Even local plan-making will have a ‘strategic’ element to it. However the term ‘strategic planning’ is more commonly used to describe polices that address ‘larger than local’ issues that cannot be dealt with by one local planning authority working alone. For example:

    • The provision for new housing across a major conurbation or wider ‘housing market area’.
    • The provision of major retail, leisure, industrial and other economic development across a ‘travel to work’ area.
    • The provision of infrastructure for transport, waste treatment, energy generation, telecommunications, water supply and water quality.
    • Requirements for minerals extraction.
    • The provision of heath, security, and major community infrastructure facilities.
    • Measures needed to address the causes and consequences of climate change, including managing flood risk and coastal change; and Protection and enhancement of the natural and historic environment, including townscape.

    The priority given to these issues will depend on local circumstances and strategic approaches may not be required in every situation.

  2. Q. Why is strategic planning important?
    A. Many social, environmental and economic issues can only be effectively addressed at a ‘larger than local’ scale.

    People and businesses do not confine their activities to one council area:

    • employees may live in one area and work in another, sometimes travelling large distances on a daily basis;
    • suppliers may service many local shops from a small number of distribution centres linked to major transport hubs;
    • a retail development in one locality may attract customers from across a wide catchment area; and
    • people may travel hundreds of miles to visit tourist attractions, leisure facilities or sporting venues on a regular basis.

    Similarly, from an environmental perspective:

    • residents in some areas may consume water and power that has travelled hundreds of miles;
    • surface water run-off in one location may present a flooding hazard to communities further ‘downstream’; and
    • water and air pollution may have a damaging impact on environmental assets some distance away.

    The planning system needs to understand these relationships and put in place policies that will manage their impacts if it is to deliver ‘sustainable’ development at a local level.

  3. Q. Where can I find out more?
    A. The Planning Advisory Service (PAS) will be producing ‘Simple Guide to Strategic Planning’ with case studies and a shorter summary document, which will be piloted at series of regional events in February 2012. For further details please visit

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This page was last reviewed 12 June 2013 at 11:08.
The page is next due for review 9 December 2014.