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<< Planning Permission Tips
This time of year often sees an explosion in new enquiries for development
schemes but the irony of this fact is that most people think that they are
in time for a Spring/early summer build if they start the Planning and design
process now through the Local Authority?? Sorry but this thinking should
have been at the end of last summer - September at the latest. In most
cases people do not seem to realise the time scales involved ....... 1
month for survey and design build up, another 2 weeks for clients alterations
and Planning upgrade, 2 to 3 months for Planning Approval, 4 weeks for the
Building Regulations upgrade, 5 weeks for the Building Regulations and tender
and then 4 months to fit in with your chosen Builders programme and work
schedule. Add that all up and 6 months would seem a challenging task.
The moral? - If you have a development project start the design and
formal applications process as soon as possible and at least 6 months (in
most cases) should be allowed before you can start on site from inception.
HOW MANY MORE TIMES DO I HAVE TO SAY THIS?
Officers - Now I warn you
that I will be speaking in general terms on this topic but this is the only
way that I can express how most of our experiences have been. Yes there
are exceptions and yes we shouldn't stereo-type folk but lets hit the nail
on the head more often that we miss eh! - so I apologise now for what I am
about to reveal in this light hearted cynical way.
Firstly, you have to remember that 'Development
Control' is generally the 'scummy' end of the Planning Officers career ladder.
Its the place where all spotty 24 year old inexperienced graduates
cut their teeth on for 2 to 7 years before being 'relocated' or 'on sicondment'
to another Planning Department or Council. Most experienced Planning
Officers are no longer at the sharp end of Development Control (householder
applications and the like). These Officers often move on to 'policy' or become
'Team Leaders' simply attending to the queries of their junior counterparts
amongst other more senior duties.
Therefore you have to understand that there is
a 80% probability that your first experiences with your own residential
development scheme (that is a matter of life or death to your own success
in life) is dependent upon a very junior member of the Planning team who
will have very little experience of the 'real life' practical matters relating
to your scheme. His or her judgment of your proposal will be 90% guided
by their own interpretation of how your scheme fits in with their local plan
policy and relevant design guides - oh how they love those design guides
- it means they don't have to think or stick your necks out in support of
a scheme that slightly deviates form these documents as these are the 'holy
grail' to the untrained and inexperienced. It is so easy to hide behind
the written word that has been compiled by more experienced Officers - why
stand out from the crowd to suggest otherwise and be counted or shot down
in flames when you can so easily 'meander' through ones Planning career thrusting
these policy and design guides to the forefront as a shield and defence to
maintaining the status quo.
Regretfully, this is typical throughout our professions
so its a bit unfair to have a pop at the Planners but this is the industry
we are involved in so its important to understand their mind set in order
for you to gain maximum benefit form a suitably designed development plan
and a quick approval.
If your extension or residential development scheme
deviates in any way from the Planners written guidance then beware - your
scheme is likely to be refused unless you can present them with a very good
design brief that explains why you have deviated and how this deviation should
be permitted in wholly Planning terms that will allow them to write up their
report in a favourable manner. Most design deviations presented
by the householder without professional help to support their case will normally
fail. An experienced Agent using 'planning speak' or 'jargon' that
the Planners understand can often defend this deviation far more strongly
and precisely than the DIY householder stating irrelevant facts unrelated
to Planning Matters. A well written supporting design brief will normally
ensure that the experienced Team Leader will at least be brought into the
decision making process by the ill equipped Junior Officer. Planning
Team Leaders will say that ALL junior decisions are passed through them prior
to final decision but in the real world they simply do not have the time
or resources to thoroughly read , vet and reassess every Junior Officers
report prior to final signing. With the increase in delegated decisions year
on year (not being presented for discussion at a full Planning Panel Meeting)
, the opportunity for more and more non-conforming designs to be automatically
refused irrespective of the site specific circumstances that may warrant
deviation, will for ever grow.
My advice is clear - go read the planning
policy and any design guides for what you are intending to do and try to
ensure that your scheme follows these principals. Should your scheme
deviate then your are best seeking advice from a professional Planning or
Design Agent prior to final design plans. The golden rule is
simple - no matter how much logic and common sense you have personally
applied to your development, unless the Junior Officer can write a favourable
report that covers the areas of relevant Planning issues contained within
the planning policy or design guides that generally fits in with your own
proposal, then do not bother wasting time and costs with an application that
deviates from this unless you have sought professional help right from the
HOWEVER, should you be blessed with a more
senior Officer for your application (and for that I mean 5+ years of experience
acting as a Development Control Officer preferably at the same Local Authority
for good local knowledge) then you could argue and defend any design deviation
far more easily without professional help as he/she will be able to understand
your point of view due to their extensive 'sharp end' experiences and be
far more sympathetic to your needs. Some will even offer design guidance
on any alterations to overcome sustainable Planning objections so lifes not
all bad at Development Control even though they are under growing pressure
to resolve applications within 8 weeks to access higher government grants
which often means NO NEGOTIATION TIME ALLOWED - but that's another storey
for debate that we won't go into here.
Our 'Maximum Build
Planning Guide' explains further the Planning Officers role
and how to submit schemes that seek to obtain Officer support right from
the start. To the uninitiated, submitting a non-compliant scheme for
Planning Permission will usually result in refusal. Our guide explains
techniques and tips on how to resolve this process so that the Officer becomes
your friend. The first hurdle to overcome in any Planning application
is for the Case Officer to recommend approval of your scheme in his/her report
- without it most residential development applications will be refused.
To purchase our Maximum Build Planning
Guide simply click on one of the links below....
"Nobody can make you feel inferior without your
About the Author
MSM is a Practicing Planning Agent and building design team offering
Architectural Services to their clients specialising in residential
development. The views and opinions expressed here are personal
ones based on relevant life experiences. These views and opinions are
not intended to be actioned or copied by others.
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