The article starts by examining the history and context of the modern spatial planning system leading to the introduction of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 Local Development Framework (LDF) system. In exploring the challenges the system currently faces, it then focuses on the key global and national factors which impact on the planning system. The paper provides a summary of progress made since 2000 to modernise the planning system and the outcomes achieved in relation to the LDF system. Based on evidence gathered from a small number of local authority planners, the benefits of the new system and the barriers to its delivery as well as the lessons learned from the early plans examined by the Planning Inspectorate are considered. Finally, the paper considers what can be done to move the LDF system forward more quickly.