Trans­par­ent plan­ning laws will help ob­jec­tion to new flats

Yorkshire Post - Property - - FRONT PAGE - Jonathon Wing­field

We re­cently moved into a large Vic­to­rian semi on a quiet tree lined cul-de-sac. Most of the other houses are sim­i­lar in scale and de­sign. Last year, a lo­cal de­vel­oper ap­plied for plan­ning per­mis­sion to de­mol­ish a house and re­place it with a block of 12 apart­ments, all of which were to have two bed­rooms. Luck­ily it was re­fused. We have now re­ceived a let­ter from the coun­cil in­form­ing us that he has sub­mit­ted a new ap­pli­ca­tion and we have 28 days to ob­ject. Although the houses are quite large it seems out­ra­geous to us that 12 fam­i­lies could end up liv­ing on a site where there was once just a sin­gle de­tached house. The last thing we want are yup­pie types tear­ing up the road at high speed. It cer­tainly seems to have mo­bilised our neigh­bours and there is a real sense of the old “Dunkirk spirit”. Can you pro­vide any ad­vice as to how we can make the most out of our ob­jec­tions and stop this de­vel­op­ment?

Hav­ing not seen the de­sign pro­pos­als, I am un­able to com­ment on whether they are ap­pro­pri­ate for the lo­ca­tion. How­ever, we are ex­tremely lucky in this coun­try to have a trans­par­ent plan­ning sys­tem. Ev­ery lo­cal plan­ning of­fice al­lows free ac­cess for any­one to look at cur­rent plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tions. These files in­clude the pro­posed de­sign draw­ings and com­ments made by the var­i­ous con­sul­tees such as High­ways and En­vi­ron­men­tal Health, to­gether with lo­cal ob­jec­tions. In­creas­ingly they are be­com­ing avail­able over the in­ter­net.

Ini­tially, I sug­gest you have a look at this file and com­pare it with the pre­vi­ous de­sign pro­pos­als. In par­tic­u­lar fo­cus on the rea­sons for the orig­i­nal re­fusal and see how the new designs ad­dress these. There is usu­ally a duty plan­ning of­fi­cer so it would be worth­while ask­ing them to com­ment on whether they feel the ap­pli­cant has made suf­fi­cient changes to over­come the orig­i­nal rea­sons for re­fusal. How­ever, be pre­pared for a “with­out prej­u­dice” re­sponse.

Lo­cal au­thor­i­ties also have a Plan­ning Pol­icy set­ting the pa­ram­e­ters for new de­vel­op­ment. It would be worth­while read­ing the rel­e­vant sec­tions to en­sure this ap­pli­ca­tion is not in con­tra­ven­tion. This is pos­si­bly one of the most ef­fec­tive ways of gain­ing sup­port. Look also into lo­cal hous­ing de­mand. Is there an over­sup­ply of apart­ments? How­ever, be pre­pared for this to work against your ar­gu­ment. If the area is dom­i­nated by large fam­ily houses then apart­ments could be in de­mand, par­tic­u­larly from older peo­ple wish­ing to down­size.

One of the big­gest mis­takes peo­ple make when ob­ject­ing to plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tions is to be­come over-emo­tional. Only soundly-based plan­ning rea­sons should be used, such as the lack of amenity space, close prox­im­ity to ad­ja­cent hab­it­able rooms or in­ad­e­quate car park­ing etc. The more peo­ple who ob­ject us­ing a non-stan­dard let­ter then the more likely the ap­pli­ca­tion will be to go be­fore a plan­ning com­mit­tee. This then af­fords the ob­jec­tors the op­por­tu­nity to ad­dress the com­mit­tee and voice their con­cerns. Although gen­er­ally this is re­stricted to just one per­son and there is a time limit it can still be very ef­fec­tive.

Fi­nally don’t un­der­es­ti­mate the power of lob­by­ing lo­cal mem­bers, par­tic­u­larly those on the plan­ning com­mit­tee. Ap­pli­ca­tions can only be re­fused on le­git­i­mate grounds but strong op­po­si­tion and po­lit­i­cal sup­port of­ten en­cour­age de­vel­op­ment con­trol of­fi­cers to look harder for rea­sons to make a re­fusal.

If it ap­pears likely that per­mis­sion will be granted you have a nar­row win­dow of op­por­tu­nity to in­flu­ence the de­sign. De­vel­op­ers are of­ten keen to be seen to be lis­ten­ing to lo­cal res­i­dents. I must also say that af­ter the ini­tial and rel­a­tively short lived dis­rup­tion dur­ing con­struc­tion, build­ings such of these quickly be­come part of the neigh­bour­hood and are read­ily ac­cepted.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.