News Planning Food Cities

Are Planning policies for a good food environment on their way?

Respond to the National Planning Policy Framework consultation by the 2nd of March and seize a unique opportunity to see a consistent set of spatial planning policies to achieve a sustainable food and farming system.

Community garden in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. Credit: Sofia Parente

Community garden in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. Credit: Sofia Parente

Respond to the NPPF consultation before the 2nd of March

With careful reading between the lines, the National Planning Policy Framework for England (NPPF), the Guidance to the National Planning Policy Framework and the National Design Code are supportive of a good food system. National Planning policy covers England. Scotland has already put in place a national and local policy framework covering good food.

However, councils’ awareness as to how they can use the planning system to enable their residents to access good food is over-reliant on input by community organisations, specifically by the members of the Sustainable Food Places network. This results in an inconsistent approach across the country.

Whilst community led planning is a strength of the planning system, councils should not have to rely on local organisations to raise and provide evidence on nationally strategic issues. Conversely, large scale private companies have the financial and human resources to challenge local authorities’ planning decisions every step along the way.

One solution is to have more detailed national planning policies, founded on well researched core principles. This will free up local councils to prepare locally applicable detailed policies which will give clear guidance on what good development and land use will look like in their own place.

The Levelling-Up and Regeneration Bill provides this opportunity through the proposal for nationally applicable development management policies and Sustain submitted written evidence to the Public Bill Committee.

Another opportunity is for the NPPF to pull the threads together with clarity on strategic support for a good food system. Consultation on revisions is underway until the 2nd of March 2023.

Whether there are national development management policies or a strengthening of policies in the National Planning Policy Framework, English councils would not have to repeat these policies in their local plans.

Sustain’s Planning Lead, Gillian Morgan, says:

“Core principles of designing for sustainable food places are applicable throughout the whole of England in all communities. Therefore, the right to good food should not have to be justified by each local planning authority individually.”

Sustain has given great thought as to how the current planning system could deliver healthy food environments. We have consulted widely on the drafting of food friendly planning policies and developed our case based on our experience of supporting food partnerships in the Sustainable Food Places network to engage in local planning. We have consulted academics, designers, supporters in the development industry and our Alliance members. Most recently, we have tested the proposals at a round table of planners from local authorities with active food partnerships.

A strategic policy to cover the food system

Sustain calls for national planning policies which will achieve a sustainable, equitable and secure food and farming system since:

  • Food is a spatial planning issue.
  • Sustainable food systems deliver multiple public benefits.
  • Access to healthy food and food security are an element of national infrastructure.
  • The food system is wider than local; local planning authorities cannot deliver on their own, leadership must come from national policies.

We have submitted our suggestions for national development management policies to achieve a sustainable food and farming system to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC). Our next step is to respond to the current NPPF consultation and call for a strategic policy to cover the food system so there is a golden thread through the various planning documents. You can do this too! There is strength in responses from local organisations.

Read our Policy Briefing 

Respond to the NPPF consultation before the 2nd of March



Published 4 Jan 2023

Planning Food Cities: Find out how to get involved shaping the future of your local area to create a more sustainable and local food system.

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Sustain advocates food and agriculture policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals, improve the working and living environment, promote equity and enrich society and culture.

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