Approaching planning in the right way can save you time and money. If you are thinking of applying for planning permission, whether for a specific development or a change of use, you may be put off by a process that can seem complicated and confusing.
When it comes to planning permission it is common to feel somewhat overwhelmed by all the rules, regulations and policies involved. However, the first important part is knowing where to start.
To help you through the planning procedure, Business Link are running a series of free rural workshops in various locations across the South East. Nick Ide, Head of Planning and Development at Batcheller Thacker and key speaker at these workshops says; "Planning doesn't do businesses any favours at all when it appears daunting and remote. However, there are ways of navigating your way through the planning process. Remember, if you are a business, planning is only a means of achieving your business objectives".
Why do I Have to Apply for Permission?
The planning system regulates the use of land and buildings in the public interest by ensuring that the right kind of development occurs in the right place. Otherwise, all sorts of developments could pop up here there and everywhere and may not be environmentally or economically sustainable.
Who Makes the Decisions?
Applications for planning permission are decided by the Local Planning Authority in accordance with their Local Development Plan, which sets out the land-use policies and land allocations for your area.
When making a decision the Local Planning Authority takes into account national policy guidance, regional planning guidance and considerations such as layout, size, design, external appearance, access, landscaping and sustainability.
So Where do I Start?
If you are considering seeking planning permission, the first thing you need to do is check the Development Plan for your area to see which policies are relevant to your application. These are available at your Local Authority's planning department or at main libraries.
Consider what effects your development will have on the local area. For example, see how it might affect your neighbours, local businesses, the local economy, wildlife, the landscape, environment, water supply, traffic, security, noise and pollution. Identifying and addressing these concerns should help with your application.
The next step is to go and see the planning people to find out what their likely objections will be, otherwise you may end up wasting time and money on an application that is rejected for reasons you could have avoided. Make an appointment with a Council Planner, this gives you a chance to outline what you are proposing to do and get a likely timetable for deciding your application.
Ask if there will be any difficulties with your application and what your chances are of obtaining permission, if your chances are low find out what you have to do to improve them.
Where Can I Find Help?
Another important part in the planning process is knowing where to go to find the right information. The following websites are very useful:
If you decide to employ a Planning Consultant, you can find the Royal Town Planning Institute online directory of Planning Consultants at http://www.rtpiconsultants.com/index.php
What Happens Next?
Once you have submitted your application, the Local Planning Authority publicises your application and consults other bodies. It then considers any views and comments received and may contact you to discuss possible amendments to your application to meet any objections. Do everything you can to make sure your development isn't refused!
A report will be prepared for the Planning Committee or the senior planning officer taking the decision and you are informed of the decision in writing. Approximately 90% of applications are decided by the Chief Planning Officer and approximately 10% go to committee. In some cases you can request for your application to go to committee and, if so, you can attend the council meeting, and you may be able to speak in favour of your proposal.
Dos and Don'ts
• Do prepare a business plan to provide an all important context for your proposal; this should be proportionate to the development envisaged! The bigger the development, the greater the care needed with your business plan.
• Do be aware of your basic rights.
• Do meet a Council Planner to establish at an early stage that the principle of what you propose may be accepted. You may be charged for this but it is money worth spending.
• Do consider calling in specialists, for example, a Planning Consultant or surveyor to help you prepare your application.
• Do be prepared to change or modify your original idea if it will make your application more likely to succeed.
• Do not rush. There is more to making an application than simply completing the forms - it is all in the preparation.
• Do not rely on hearsay from neighbours who may have had planning permission for what appears to be a similar development, as every application is considered upon its individual merits.
• Do not expect an instant decision - allow sufficient time for the process.
For details on forthcoming workshops in your area and to book your place, please call 0845 600 9 006 or visit www.ruralbookings.co.uk