The Planning System

Dialogue:______read aloud in pairs


A: Do you think it is worth participating in the planning process or is everything already decided in favour of development?


B: Well, the planning committee is made up of elected representatives. They get a summary of objections to an application in the case officer's report. You can also email members of the planning committee a week or so before a proposal comes before them. They are not permitted to express a view before their planning committee meeting, but they might take note of a well argued point.


A: But surely, in the majority of cases the planning committee will support the recommendation of the case officer. Ultimately, the government holds the power, because case officers always have to second guess the decision of government appeal inspectors. If Planning Committees refuse applications and developers then are successful in winning appeals, it could be very costly to Councils and therefore rate-payers. The losers pay the cost of these appeals.


B: It may not be a level playing-field, but not all appeals are upheld. If you help case officers by making a strong case, then you give them the confidence to recommend refusal in the knowledge that an appeal will probably be dismissed. You can take a direct part in the appeal process too by posting comments on the Planning Inspectorate Portal.


A: In my experience, developers always get their way. If they are refused once, they will continue to bombard neighbourhoods with planning applications until one is successful.


B: Every time they are refused, they are obliged to put right what is wrong with the application. Their starting point may be 30 flats, but they may finish by getting permission for 6 houses which fit in with the local community. That's the planning process.


A: So you're telling me that I have to spend my life reading planning applications and appeal statements to protect my amenity.


B: That's your choice, though you may also be concerned about the quality of proposals to build new homes: undersized bedrooms, dark living rooms, cramped conditions, lack of outdoor space...The amenity of the occupants is important too.

-----© Ted Power