Planning House are ecstatic to announce that Durham County Council Planning Committee overturned officer recommendation and approved planning permission for a rural workers dwelling in County Durham.
The benefits of the scheme shone through and we couldn’t be happier for our clients who run a forestry business.
It’s times like this that we love what we do and can see how much the approval means to our clients. We worked with the clients for a number of months and because of the personal approach we adopt we are overjoyed to have supported them through the process – congratulations Janice & Justin at Howarth Raw Timber & Logs.
If you’re planning a development, choosing the right professionals needs careful thought. An architect will design to your specification, however progressing this through the red tape of the planning process without a town planning consultant onboard can be risky. To help you narrow down your selection I’ve prepared 8 steps to finding your perfect consultant.
1 ARE THEY A REGISTERED TOWN PLANNER?
As with any profession which provides a service, you will want to make sure your town planning consultant is accredited and insured. A Charter Town Planning Consultant is a member of the Royal Town Planning Institute, fully trained and professionally qualified. All members of the RTPI are bound by a Code of Professional Conduct setting out required standards of practice and ethics. The Institute requires planning professionals to meet and maintain high standards of competence and conduct themselves in a way that inspires trust and confidence in the profession. A chartered town planner will usually have MRTPI after their name to identify that they are accredited.
2 DO THEY HAVE EXPERIENCE?
There are many areas of planning so just because someone is a town planner doesn’t mean they have been involved in handling planning applications. It’s not essential that a consultant has experience in public sector planning, however, if they have experience dealing with planning applications by working in a Local Planning Authority they can have an edge in providing advice to developers on what the best approach maybe for a particular scheme.
3 WHAT IS THEIR SPECIALISM?
Everyone has an area of expertise, a town planner who works predominantly in waste and minerals isn’t necessarily going to bring the right set of skills to support a self builder through the planning process. Whilst town planning isn’t rocket science each consultant can have knowledge and experience in different development areas.
4 WHAT DO OTHERS SAY ABOUT THEM?
Most planning consultants have a website, do they have references or testimonials to support their work. Do they advertise elsewhere for instance Yell or Google are there reviews you could consider? Do your homework.
5 ARE YOU ON THE SAME PAGE?
When you talk to your consultant are they interested in the proposal? Do they think what you are trying to achieve is reasonable? Talk about timescales but be aware once a planning application is submitted it is generally out of your planning consultants hands.
6 ARE THEY PERSONALLY SUITABLE?
Do you feel comfortable with them? At the end of the day they are acting on your behalf trying to secure your planning consent. Do they know what your aspirations are and what (if anything) you would compromise on? Be honest about what you’re looking for and ask them for their honest opinion about your chances of success, but don’t discount them if they don’t think your proposal is 100% guaranteed be more worried if they think it is!
7 DO THEY HAVE LOCAL KNOWLEDGE?
I don’t mean do they live in the area, rather do they have experience in the local area, have they been involved in other projects? If they have they may provide more realistic advice about your project, local planning policies and what the best approach may be to take your proposal forward.
8 HAVE YOU COMPARED QUOTES?
Everyone loves a bargain; however, every town planner will have their own fee structure, it’s really no different to EasyJet and Virgin airlines, both services will get you there but you need to weigh up what’s important to you. Do you opt for a no frills service or go for a more personal bespoke service neither are incorrect. My advice compare your quotes taking into account all of the other steps and I’m sure you’ll find your ideal town planning consultant.
Planning House has successfully secured outline approval for a detached new home within an agricultural field adjacent to the boundary of the small village of High Hesleden, Co. Durham. The recommendation was to refuse the planning application, however Durham Planning Committee overturned the recommendation and approved the application unanimously. The application site is located outside of the defined settlement boundaries at the edge of the village. The site previously housed the former Blacksmiths which was demolished some years ago.
Some of the common town planning myths are dispelled in the September issue ofNorthern Insight by Chris Pipe, Director of Planning House. This is a must read for anyone embarking on a development project, especially those who may not have been through the planning process previously.
There are some common myths about town planning which you should be aware of before you embark on a project, in this article I want to dispel a few of them.
‘Apply for something bigger than you want to build then you can compromise with the planners to the actual size you want’ What a load of rubbish! Apply for what you want and save time and resources with unnecessary negotiations, if a planner has a scheme they can support they will planners don’t tend to disagree out of obstinance.
‘My plans are similar to down the street, so it’s guaranteed to be approved’ Every planning decision is based on specific circumstances. Policies evolve and significantly influence a planning decision. The creation of a conservation area or where a development boundary line is drawn on a local plan can all fundamentally change the way a proposal is viewed. Planning history and constraints of a site also play a huge part in the process. Whilst precedent can be a contributing factor the planning mantra is ‘every application will be determined on its own merits’.
‘Pre-Application advice has been positive so my application will be approved’ Planning decisions are based on adopted policies, however, don’t underestimate local objections and politics. If nearby residents object against your application and contact the parish or local councillors you could also end up with objections from them. Some Councillors sit on the planning committee and can override the planning officer’s recommendations. Speak with neighbours and local representatives in a bid to avoid objections and potential appeal.
‘Planner Officers will guide me to an approval’ A planning officer’s role is to process your application. Some planners are worth their weight in gold and talk to applicants about issues and guide in overcoming them. However, planners have set timeframes to decide an application, they are often under resourced and as a consequence can take the easier route of refusing an application rather than discussing any issues. Contacting your planner to ascertain their view on your application can avoid unnecessary refusal.
‘I’ll get my decision in a couple of months’ Let’s assume your planning application is valid when its submitted, i.e. all relevant information is submitted. Only once its valid does the decision making clock start to tick. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that if an application is valid no further information could be requested, something could crop up which means you may need to provide further information, potentially meaning further time is needed. Planning applications have timescales for determination and Council’s try to adhere to these, however extensions of time can be requested by the planners you don’t have to agree to them, but unless you appeal against non-determination the Council can take longer to decide your application, especially if the application goes to the Planning Committee for determination.
‘Once I have permission I can start to build’Sometimes this is the case but generally there are conditions attached to a planning approval which must be discharged, for instance agreeing a brick or tile for your development or providing information relating to boundaries etc. Check your conditions, as discharging conditions can take a number of weeks which you need to plan into your build schedule. Also, don’t forget about Building Regulations Consent which is a completely separate process to planning.
‘I can change my plans as I go’ We’ve all seen TV programmes that encourage alterations however be aware that technically, if a proposal is not built in accordance with the approved plans or conditions it doesn’t have planning permission! Changes can be risky and could have fundamental consequences such as enforcement action, demolition, finances being withdrawn by your mortgage company, or an unsellable asset. Always check that changes don’t invalidate your planning permission.