Proper ad­vice might have pre­vented fall­ing into plan­ning trap

Yorkshire Post - Property - - NEWS -

Q Over two years ago, we found a per­fect plot on the edge of a North York­shire mar­ket town. The ex­ist­ing bun­ga­low was in a poor state of re­pair and too small for our re­quire­ments so we ap­pointed a plan drawer to pre­pare some de­signs and meet with a plan­ning of­fi­cer to dis­cuss ex­tend­ing the prop­erty. We were led to be­lieve that our ideas would be ac­cept­able and al­though a plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tion was nec­es­sary, it would be a for­mal­ity. We re­ceived a sub­se­quent re­fusal and have spent al­most £10,000 on fees both for the orig­i­nal draw­ings and a sub­se­quent ap­peal that we also lost. Al­though the prop­erty is on the mar­ket, prices in this area have dropped sig­nif­i­cantly and we

are now liv­ing in con­di­tions that are far too small for a grow­ing fam­ily. Is there any cause of re­dress against the lo­cal author­ity?

A Un­for­tu­nately you made two fun­da­men­tal er­rors. Firstly, em­ploy­ing a plan drawer rather than an ar­chi­tect for what sounds to be a sen­si­tive if not am­bi­tious project was a mis­take. No ar­chi­tect can ever guar­an­tee to a client that they can ob­tain a plan­ning per­mis­sion. This de­ci­sion is taken by third par­ties and where ap­pli­ca­tions are “ma­jor” or con­tentious; a com­mit­tee of elected coun­cil­lors are re­spon­si­ble. It is im­pos­si­ble to sec­ond guess how a group of peo­ple will vote when they are be­ing lob­bied by their con­stituents and fel­low mem­bers.

Some plan draw­ers may not be aware of the nu­ances of the plan­ning sys­tem and are not there­fore the best peo­ple to pro­vide ad­vice.

Per­son­ally, I pre­fer clients to at­tend pre-ap­pli­ca­tion meet­ings so they can hear first hand the views of the of­fi­cer and get a bet­ter idea of the whole process.

Se­condly, you should have been told that any ad­vice or com­ments given at this pre­lim­i­nary meet­ing were with­out prej­u­dice. For the rea­sons stated above this has to be the case.

Ef­fec­tively, this re­moves any cause of re­dress. Al­though I may be stat­ing the ob­vi­ous it was fool­hardy to make such a sig­nif­i­cant pur­chase, with­out at the very least, mak­ing de­tailed plan­ning con­sent a con­di­tion of sale.

You do not give the rea­sons for re­fusal. If the lo­cal author­ity ob­ject to the prin­ci­ple of any devel­op­ment then there may be very lit­tle you can do. How­ever, if it is a ques­tion of de­sign or scale then an imag­i­na­tive ar­chi­tect might be able to come up with a so­lu­tion that is more ac­cept­able.

I sug­gest you con­tact the Royal In­sti­tute of Bri­tish Ar­chi­tects who have a clients’ ad­vi­sory ser­vice. They can put you in touch with some lo­cal ar­chi­tects who have the rel­e­vant ex­pe­ri­ence. The re­gional of­fice is RIBA York­shire, The Stu­dio, 32 The Calls, and Leeds, LS2 7EW. tel 0113 389 9870.

Jonathon Wing­field is man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Acan­thus WSM Ar­chi­tects Ltd and Wood­hall Plan­ning and Con­ser­va­tion, Leeds.

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