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  What's planning permission?
Updated 22 January 2004, 15.30
Inside Fame Academy

Citizenship 11-14/KS3/Levels E&F
Local government

Fame Academy may have to move out of its north London mansion because of a damaged listed building and annoyed neighbours.

In pairs students rank land uses for unpleasantness, then role play a planning committee.

Learning aims

  • Why we regulate land use
  • How local councillors grant planning permission.
Read the story

Ask the class:

  • Why can't people build whatever they want, wherever they want?

  • Most of your possessions can be treated as you see fit, why is the way we treat land different?

In pairs rank the following land uses for how upset you would be if someone built them next door to you.

  • Sewage farm
  • Scrap yard
  • Skate park
  • Pub
  • Fame Academy
  • Nightclub
  • Bail hostel
  • Old folks home
  • Cemetery
  • Primary school
  • Factory
  • Offices

    Ask some of the pairs to feedback their results then ask them.

    [A] How far do they agree with each other?

    [B] How would the results differ if a group of 40-year-olds did the same activity?

    [C] Is this an exercise for which there is a right or wrong answer?
    Prompt: Everyone will have their own opinion, so land use decisions are political with winners and losers.They are not technical, like questions relating to the maintenance of a machine.

    Main activity

    The planning committee role play

    Students get to pass or block planning applications affecting their local area. Read through each application in turn and then ask the group to vote on it. They have 3 options:

    [A] Accept
    [B] Reject
    [C] Accept subject to conditions

    Application one
    Mr Jones wants to use a plot of derelict land as a breakers yard (car scrap yard). The land is next to a local park which is very popular with dog walkers and children.


    1. The planning officers say there are no technical reasons why it can't go ahead.

    2. Local people will be very unhappy. There are not many parks in the area and the scrap yard could make the whole place look like a dump.

    3. The scrap yard will provide 3 jobs for local people.

    The decision is up to the students

    Application two
    Skateboarder May Dupname wants to build a practice ramp in her garden. She lives in a quiet part of anytown, but her garden is big and has a fence around it.


    1. The planning officers say there are no technical reasons why it can't go ahead.

    2. May Dupname is a world class skateboarder and says she needs the ramp to practice.

    3. Her neighbours have objected to the plan because they think it will look ugly and make a lot of noise.

    The decision is up to the students

    Application three
    Mr Handi Mann wants to build a tree house for his two kids. It will be 2 metres up a tree in his back garden. The house itself will be 2 metres high and 2.5 metres long.


    1. The planning officers say there are no technical reasons why it can't go ahead.

    2. The Manns have a quite a small house and when it rains there is nowhere for the kids to play.

    3. The neighbours have objected to the plan because they think it will look ugly and the kids will be able to see into the next-door gardens.

    The decision is up to the students

    Extension activity
    Pick their favourite application and write a letter to the applicant explaining the result. Include sketches to illustrate the decision.

    The way we use land affects people around us, for this reason we have a land use planning system that regulates building.

    What are the advantages of this?

    What could be the problems?

    Teachers' Background

      For more information on the land use planning system contact the Royal Town Planning Institute using the link on this page.

    • Building work in the UK is normally subject to planning control. This means you must send your local council a planning application. If it is passed you receive planning permission.
    • The planning committee is one of the most important committees that councillors can sit on.

    • The council employees who advise them are called planning officers.

    • Councillors do not have to accept the advice of their officers.

    • If you don't agree with a planning decision you can present further information to back up your case.

    • If you still think the decision is wrong the next stage is to appeal to the planning inspectorate.

    • Development control is guided by the contents of local plans, these are finalised after local consultation.
      For all links and resources click at top right.

  • More InfoBORDER=0
    UKChildren fight skate park misery
    UKKids battle to keep their wendy house


    Past StoriesBORDER=0
    What's planning permission?


    BBC Links
    BBCi Schools: Active citizenship


    Web Links
    Royal Town Planning Institute
    Note: You will leave CBBC. We are not responsible for other websites.



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