There is no doubt that, for developers, there should be many benefits to engaging with the area planning authority before submitting a planning application.
But in practice, how easy is this to do and are planning authorities embracing the opportunities that pre-application liaison and discussions can bring?
Amanda Olley, planning consultant and Director of Summit Planning Associates spoke to Property Aspects magazine. She said: “In many cases engagement between developers and the planning authority works particularly well, making more effective use of Council time and keeping overall costs to the developer at a reasonable level. It is always better to try and engage with the local planning authority before applications are submitted, so that detailed proposals can be developed having had the input of the Council or even just so that they are made aware that an application is coming, if it is for smaller, relatively straightforward proposals.”
“Unfortunately, recent experience has seen a lack of willingness on the part of Local Planning Authorities to engage in pre-application discussions regarding larger scale proposals, on the basis that the application caseload of the planner must take priority and no time can be afforded to pre-application work.”
She continued, “One explanation for this is the increased caseloads of individual planners following recent staff cutbacks and redundancies. I’m afraid that is a two way street though. The private sector suffered its greatest staff losses in the early phases of the current economic downturn and still had to find the manpower to engage with the public sector when bringing proposals forward. At a time when there are now small signs of economic improvement, Local Planning Authorities need to take responsibility for the contribution that they can make to encouraging this further and realise the increased confidence that their pre-application engagement can bring to development proposals.”
Property Aspects Magazine appreciates the contribution to this article from Amanda Olley at Summit Planning Associates.
For further information, contact Summit Planning Associates via Tel: 01625 801800 or at www.summitassociates.co.uk