The Solent Forum

Working in parnership for the future
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 development frameworks setting the framework for planning permission decisions.

Marine Plans

The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) has delegated responsibility for preparing marine plans for the English inshore and offshore waters. Marine planning is a new approach to the management of our seas and aims to ensure a sustainable future for our coastal and offshore waters through managing and balancing the many activities, resources and assets in our marine environment. Marine planning is modelled on its terrestrial counterpart of Local Development Frameworks (LDFs) (soon to be called Local Plans, as proposed in the Localism Bill). Although the marine plan is a single document and the LDF is a suite of documents, the structure of documents is to have a strategy, a policy map which is a spatial presentation of the strategy, an implementation plan and a monitoring plan.

Marine planning will set the direction for decision making at a local level to lead to efficient and sustainable use of our marine resources. It will:

The MMO has developed the Marine Planning Portal which allows it to display its information and seek comments from people on these data sets.

The MMO has published a commissioned study of socio-economic factors in marine planning. The study, conducted independently, is a resource that helps marine planners, developers, local authorities and others with an interest in sustainable development in the marine area to understand various issues affecting coastal communities. It takes a national snapshot of the socio-economic factors currently driving coastal communities in England, from planned developments to tourism, and then looks in more detail at the East of England, the area where the first two marine plans are currently being developed. It has also published a Evidence and Issues report for marine planning.

Marine Planning in the Solent

In consultation with partners and stakeholders, the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) has selected the sea areas off the coast between Dartmouth in Devon to Dover in Kent (known formally as South Inshore and South Offshore) as the second English marine plan areas that will be developed. This area includes the Solent and the Isle of Wight.  The MMO commenced scoping prior to Christmas 2012 and stakeholder engagement began in 2013.  Please see the MMO website for the latest developments and publications.

The Statement of Public Participation (SPP) for the South Inshore and Offshore Plan Areas was approved by the Secretary of State on the 1 April 2013. The SPP sets out the process for plan making in the South Inshore and South Offshore plan areas, who may be involved in marine planning and how and when people can get involved. It also includes an overall timeline for plan-making in the South plan areas.

Land Use Plans

Land use planning sets out public policy to order and regulate land use in an efficient and ethical way, thus preventing land use conflicts. National and local government use land use planning to manage the development of land within their jurisdictions. For the coast, this jurisdiction ends at the mean low water mark. Local planning authorities (LPA) prepare local development documents which set out the policies against which planning decisions are taken. The LPA (usually the district or borough council) is responsible for deciding whether a proposed development should be allowed to go ahead when a developer makes a planning application.

It is advisable to view the appropriate policies in local development documents before submitting a planning application, as the LPA will judge the application against the policy criteria. The development documents are available online (see links below) or from the LPA planning office.

There are currently a number of quite fundamental changes to planning and economic development policy being proposed nationally. Key changes include:

Local Development Document Links in the Solent

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 in and adjacent 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 more details on these plans, please refer to the Plans and Strategies page in the Forum's sister website, Solentpedia.

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.