User guide: How do I use DCP?

The following is an introduction to DCP giving the manuals aims and broad structure.

The aim of Development Control Practice is to provide in a readable, organised and topical form a referenced commentary on the many factors involved in seeking and making decisions on planning applications. The work derives from a mixture of practical experience and a detailed reading of ministerial policy and decision making from recent years, and provides a guide which can grow and evolve further over the years to come. The current editorial objective is to develop the work by incremental growth and improvement within the structure already established.

Development Control Practice is not an academic work and neither is it the intention to provide a complete legal reference to development control, there being many admirable and erudite works that fulfil this role. It does, however, set out those areas of planning law that are in regular use and explains by reference to example how they have been interpreted.

Development Control Practice is thus of use to both the local government officer, and the applicant for permission or the appellant. It is hoped that its contents are also of help to the interested lay person, and the text has been written with a regard for those with only a basic knowledge of the subject. However, as the book deals with what is a diverse and complex subject, sometimes embodying difficult legal concepts, the use of civil service language, quasi-legal terms and planning jargon is to a certain extent unavoidable if the essence of what others have said is to be conveyed without distorting its meaning.

The complete work has a broad structural division within it. Sections 1-6 deal with the generality of the development control process and examines current power structures, legal enablements and contemporary constraints on decision making. The administrative procedures through which a planning application has to pass are also explained. Sections 7-31 explore the business of the control of development as it relates to the many different forms of use with which the system has to grapple on a day by day basis. Over 100 categories of development have been identified for the purpose of this exercise. This part of the volume naturally draws on some of the background material concerned with principles and process, but contributes much more in terms of practical detail.

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