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Providing guidance to developers

Encourage your local planning authority to produce additional guidance on providing space for food growing.

In this section we will look at the opportunity to provide developers with more detailed information on how space for food growing can be incorporated into developments.

Guidance could either be published by the local planning authority or, an alternative approach is for your food growing network to draft an information leaflet that developers could use. Discuss the options with your authority; they may offer to print and distribute your leaflet if they do not have the resources to publish formal guidance.

If this is all new to you we suggest you go to the Getting started page first.

When additional guidance might be an option

  • When places are undergoing change, when new areas of housing are proposed, when regeneration is taking place,
  • Where open space is in short supply

Planning authorities often publish Supplementary Planning Documents (SPD). Supplementary planning documents add further detail to the policies in the Local Plan. They can be used to provide further guidance for development on specific sites. They might be used to explain a particular local plan policy issues such as sustainable design, climate change, parks and open spaces / Green Infrastructure. SPDs have to be produced following a formal procedure. The extent to which a planning application has taken notice of the supplementary planning documents is relevant in making planning decisions. This means that developers should have taken the guidance into account before submitting their planning application.

What role could you play

The government advises that any additional planning documents should only be used where clearly justified. Supplementary planning documents should be used where they can help applicants make successful applications or aid infrastructure delivery. They should not be used to add unnecessarily to the financial burdens on development. This means that you should make your case for including community food growing space just as if you were responding to a draft local plan. Your aim would be:

  • To encourage landscape architects to include community food growing spaces and edible planting in their designs, and
  • To ensure the quality and quantity of open space provided as part of a development proposal will meet the varied needs of future occupants.

Ask planning officers if any guidance is to be prepared or if it would be useful. You could offer to write up case studies of local spaces to give developers reassurance.


  • Does any of the published evidence already include food growing?
  • What evidence of need and opportunities can you draw on?
  • Have any community food growing spaces been provided in local new development recently?


Guidance could either be stand alone or included alongside other relevant topics.

Food growing and development planning

The Brighton and Hove “Food Growing and Development Planning Advice Note” is an exemplar. The Council and the local food partnership developed it jointly with the aim that their work could be shared by other councils rather than each council having to duplicate. It has the status of a non statutory advice note. Nevertheless it is actively promoted and is successful.

Residential design

Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames promotes local food growing because of the numerous benefits for residents and its contribution to achieving the objectives of the Kingston Plan overall. In particular, food growing is seen as a measure to contribute to climate change adaptation. The adopted strategic policy encourages the provision of food growing spaces in new development. Their Residential Design Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) of 2013 encourages developers to promote local food growing opportunities in the interest of sustainable design and then expands on how this might be achieved.

Climate change

Leicester City Council formally adopted a Climate Change Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) in 2011 to expand on their Core Strategy. Developers are advised to ensure the size of gardens in housing developments allows for multiple uses, including for growing food. The Council acknowledges that providing useful outdoor spaces for more urban developments can be a challenge. They advise provision of plazas, allotment areas, courtyards and green/brown roofs to help to reduce the urban heat island and provide a mosaic of habitats for wildlife.

Sustainable design and construction

London Borough of Haringey has adopted a Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) on Sustainable Design and Construction (2013). Listed under the section on climate change, they briefly outline the scope for growing food on existing plots or more unconventional sites and how to include food growing in new developments. They give an example of a local food growing space and photos illustrate the concept.

The adopted 2018 Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire Local Plans contain a suite of policies which will help to ensure that new development in the area reduces its environmental impact. The benefits of including food growing spaces in the urban extensions is recognised. Food growing is covered in the Greater Cambridge Sustainable Design and Construction SPD adopted in 2020.


The Lancashire district of Blackburn with Darwen experiences significantly higher than average levels of poor health among its population. Their Local Plan Policy 33 covers any development that has the potential to impact on public health and also retail policies for hot food takeaways. Aspects of this policy are expanded upon by a Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) agreed in 2016.

In 2015, the Council invited Blackburn Sustainable Food Network to contribute to the scope of the SPD and to emerging drafts. The council responded positively to this input and has included a section on allotments and community food growing spaces, recognising “growing your own food can contribute towards healthy eating that would ultimately improve the health of the borough’s residents”.

Healthy food choices. Another lesson can be drawn from this SPD. At the end of the document, the consultation responses are summarised, including those from two large fast food chains. Their comments are often repeated in response to local plan policies. In this case, the council had done their research and stood firm.

The council has taken a sensitive policy approach to the proximity of fast food outlets to places frequented by young people which looks like it will be more effective than most policies we have seen so far.

Other examples can be seen in our publication "Hot Food Takeaways: Planning a route to healthier communities".

Help for communities


If you don’t have suitable up to date local policies go to the Plan Making section.

Go to Making It Happen section to monitor planning applications to make sure guidance is being used.

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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