Phase 2: Design

Planning & building regulations

These activities help students to understand that the planning system combines guidance and a process that work together to control the growth of the built environment. They consider building regulations in practical terms – how do these guide how they complete their work on site?

  • This lesson idea can use a single or double session. It allows you to explore both planning and building regulations, by splitting the group.
  • You can explore your local plan as a short whole-class activity, or in a longer session, get students to do this in small groups, as below.
  • If you do not want to treat this as a research task, find the web address for your local plan – it will be on your local authority web site.

Planning and building regulations


  • Consider what students understand by ‘planning’ and ‘building regulations’.

Main activity 1

  • Using What is your local development framework? help students to appreciate that local plans define what can be built where.
  • Discuss the views that residents, shopkeepers, businesses and developers might express at a community consultation.
  • If time permits, think about where you could build different sorts of development locally, e.g. housing, a shopping centre, industrial units etc.

Main activity 2

  • Split the class into 2.
  • One half uses The planning process in small groups, to research online and create a quick presentation on the main points.
  • The other half does the same using Building regulations.
  • If time permits, students present their ideas to the other half of the class.


  • Gather ideas from each group – you can create a chart on the board.
  • Discuss why planning and Building regulations help communities to develop.


Easier/Level 1:
Prepare web links for students to use. Split this into more than one session, looking at planning in one and building regulations in another. Deliver each as a whole-class activity. Allow students homework time to think about their presentations.

Students research the different routes to obtaining approval under building regulations, including staged approval on complex projects. Why might you use different routes? Who can approve the work at each stage? (A Building Inspector or Approved Inspector).


You could print out the relevant web pages for some students. Invite a member of the local planning team or building control to talk to your group. For example, they could introduce and explore the development of listed buildings and in conservation areas, using local examples.

Answers: What is your local development framework?

Zones that students might find include:

green belt – areas in some parts of the UK where new developments are unlikely to be given permission and developers must use brownfield sites instead

employment – a single-use zone

housing – a single-use zone

environmental improvement – more run-down areas where developers are likely to be encouraged, as long as their plans will improve the zone for those who live and work there

mixed use – where new developments may include housing, retail and light business use, without disturbing the overall balance of use

safeguarded from development – a zone that must be preserved in its current state

Special character area – where the existing layout and architecture must be respected, limiting the scale and style of possible new developments

conservation area – zone in which development may be limited and where new buildings or modifications must match existing styles

town centre policy area – where new developments must contribute to making a town centre cleaner, safer, greener and better designed.

Answers: The planning process

Students should look for and include the following areas of information, depending on how you choose to deliver the activity and the abilities of your group:

The planning system: what ‘plan-led’ means; the need for sustainable communities; development control

Planning applications: difference between an outline and full application; what is submitted: plans, written description and details; fee; confirmation of ownership of site or notification of owners

The planning process: getting initial advice; submitting an application; timescales for simple and complex developments; approval by the planning authority committee; appeals (committee, regional development agency, central government)

Answers: Building regulations

Students should be aware that:

  • building regulations are legally governed by acts of Parliament including the Building Act and the Party Wall Act
  • the 14 ‘Approved Documents’ provide detailed guidance. These lay down the legal requirements for dimensions, standards, performance, materials and workmanship
  • the local Building Control Body inspects sites to ensure compliance with the requirements of the Approved Documents.




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