Are UK planning authorities becoming more pro-development?
The unpredictable and inconsistent functioning of the English development control system continues to amaze me, but this time the surprises have been pleasant.
During the last week we have obtained planning permission for two new projects – a pair of semi-detached houses in Rayleigh, Essex, and a small apartment development in Epsom. Both schemes were designed with due regard to planning policies, and reflected pre-application advice received from planning officers and consultants. Despite this, based on past experience, we were convinced that elected councillors would insist on the applications being referred to their committees, where the voices of noisy protestors may well prevail. To our surprise, in both instances the officers put aside the objections of neighbours and politicians alike, and approved the proposals under delegated powers, based on their professional judgement, applying planning policies systematically and objectively.
Are councils listening to George Osborne?
The same two planning authorities which approved these applications have reputations for members ignoring their officers’ advice, rejecting applications despite positive officers’ recommendations, only to have their decisions overturned on appeal. This has been our experience in the past. But suddenly reason appears to prevail – saving the local authority, as well as the developer, a considerable amount of time and money. Is this just our good fortune, or a sign that George Osborne’s determination to be a ‘builder’ has filtered down to local planning authorities?
Join the discussion
Please share your recent experiences, and let us know if you too have found planning authorities to be more pro-development in recent weeks and months.